Sanjay Menghani

Recent Graduate
College of Medicine – Tucson
Year Entered Program: 
Grad Year: 
Degrees Received: 
  • BA in Biochemistry and Economics (with a Minor in Chemistry) from the University of Pennsylvania, May 2015
  • PhD in Molecular Medicine, focus in Immunobiology from the University of Arizona Graduate College, May 2022
Thesis Advisor: 
Michael D.L. Johnson
Thesis Research: 

With the growing rise in prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, there is a greater need for developing novel antimicrobials. Copper is largely toxic to bacteria, a fact that has been utilized for centuries. In the human innate immune system, macrophages expose engulfed bacteria to high concentrations of copper within the phagolysosome to rid the body of pathogenic bacteria. The use of copper-chelating compounds as antimicrobials has been a recent trend in antimicrobial discovery. The use of 8-hydroxyquinoline (8-HQ) as a copper-dependent antimicrobial against Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the fungus Cryptococcus neoformans has been recently published. As a result, we hypothesized that other copper-chelating compounds with similar chemical structural components can also serve as antimicrobials. To test this, we proposed to utilize in vitro bacterial growth assays and macrophage co-culture experiments. My thesis research focuses on understanding a novel antimicrobial, called Compound 240W, that directly acts as a bactericidal against Streptococcus pneumoniae as well as lab strains of methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA), methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), and S. aureus cultured from a patient with atopic dermatitis. While most commercially available antimicrobials target bacterial DNA transcription or mRNA translation, our research in this study show that the long-known principle of copper toxicity can be exploited for an under-utilized purpose. 

About Me: 

Growing up in Vineland, NJ and going to college in Philadelphia, I have experienced most of my life on the East Coast. Moving to Arizona to start my training to become a physician-scientist presents me with a new and exciting adventure that I am really looking forward to embarking on! In college, I worked in the lab of Dr. Sara Cherry, a well-known microbiologist and virologist. In her lab, I got the chance to learn about Rift Valley fever virus. After graduating college, I moved on to work as a Postbaccalaureate IRTA at the NIH Clinical Center studying the added healthcare burden associated with nosocomial infections, patient falls, pressure ulcers, and other hospital-centric patient outcomes. In returning to basic science research, I hope to apply what I learned in the first 2 years of medical school to solve scientific problems, specifically within the realm of infections and immunity. In the Johnson Lab, I hope to venture to better understand the role of copper and other metals in the infection process, with the end goal of helping to develop novel therapeutic strategies against bacterial infections that he can bring to the bedside down the road.

Honors & Awards: 
  • 2011 Otto Schwabe Memorial Scholarship – Vineland Rotary Club (June 2011)
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award – Vineland Rotary Club (June 2013)
  • State of New Jersey Dept. of Human Services 2014 Sally & Nathan Rogoff Scholarship
  • Inducted into the Phi Sigma Biological Sciences Honor Society at Penn (Jan. 2015)
  • Awarded New Jersey Dept. of Human Services 2015 Cathy and Herb Bodensiek Scholarship
  • NIH Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Fellowship at the NIH Clinical Center
  • NIGMS F30 Grant (1F30GM139246-01A1)
Selected Publications: 
  1. Jaffey J.A., Shubitz L.F., Johnson M.D.L., Bolch C.A., da Cunha A., Murthy A.K., Lopez B.S., Monasky R., Carswell I., Spiker J., Neubert M.J., Menghani S.V. Evaluation of Host Constitutive and Ex Vivo Coccidioidal Antigen-Stimulated Immune Response in Dogs with Naturally Acquired Coccidioidomycosis. J Fungi (Basel). 2023 Feb 6;9(2):213. doi: 10.3390/jof9020213. PMID: 36836327; PMCID: PMC9959558.

  2. Menghani S.V., Sanchez-Rosario Y., Pok C., Liu R., Gao F., O'Brien H., Neubert M.J., Ochoa K., Durckel M., Hellinger R.D., Hackett N., Wang W., Johnson M.D.L. Novel dithiocarbamate derivatives are effective copper-dependent antimicrobials against Streptococcal species. Front Microbiol. 2023 Jan 20;13:1099330. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2022.1099330. PMID: 36741900; PMCID: PMC9894897.

  3. Menghani S.V., Branigan G.L., Smith K.W. Smoothing Transition Points for MD-PhD Trainees From Medical School to Graduate School. Acad Med. 2022;97(9):1254. doi:10.1097/ACM.0000000000004782

  4. Menghani S.V., Cutcliffe M.P., Sanchez-Rosario Y., et al. N,N-Dimethyldithiocarbamate Elicits Pneumococcal Hypersensitivity to Copper and Macrophage-Mediated Clearance. Infect Immun. 2022;90(4):e0059721. doi:10.1128/iai.00597-21

  5. Durando M.L.*, Menghani S.V.* Baumann J.L., Robles D.G., Day T.A., Vaziri C., Scott A.J. Four-Year Disease-Free Remission in a Patient With POLE Mutation-Associated Colorectal Cancer Treated Using Anti-PD-1 Therapy. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2022 Mar;20(3):218-223. doi: 10.6004/jnccn.2021.7115. PMID: 35276675. *Co-First Author

  6. Menghani S.V.*, Rivera A.*, Neubert M., Hagerty J.R., Lewis L., Galgiani J.N., Jolly E.R., Alvin J.W., Johnson M.D.L. Demonstration of N,N-Dimethyldithiocarbamate as a Copper-Dependent Antibiotic against Multiple Upper Respiratory Tract Pathogens. Microbiol Spectr. 2021 Sep 1:e0077821. doi: 10.1128/Spectrum.00778-21. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34468162. *Co-First Author

  7. Johnson M.D., Younis U.S., Menghani S.V., Addison K.J., Whalen M., Pilon A.L., Cress A.E., Polverino F., Romanoski C., Kraft M., Martinez F.D., Guerra S., Ledford J.G. CC16 Binding to α4β1 Integrin (VLA-4) Protects Against Mycoplasma pneumoniae Infection. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2021 Jun 1;203(11):1410-1418. doi: 10.1164/rccm.202006-2576OC. PMID: 33326355.

  8. Peng T., Zong Y., Johnson M.D., Menghani S.V., Lewis M.L., Galgiani J.N.. A quantitative enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) to approximate complement-fixing antibody titers in serum from patients with coccidioidomycosis. Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2021 Jan;99(1):115198. doi: 10.1016/j.diagmicrobio.2020.115198. Epub 2020 Sep 4. PMID: 32987245.

  9. O’Brien, H., Alvin, J.A., Menghani, S.V., Sanchez-Rosario, Y., Van Doorslaer, K., Johnson, M.D.L. (2020). Rules of Expansion: an Updated Consensus Operator Site for the CopR-CopY Family of Bacterial Copper Exporter System Repressors. mSphere May/June 2020 Vol. 5 Issue 3 e00411-20

  10. Menghani, S.V., Barbosa, A., Sagerman, P., Beal, M.W., Scott, A.J. (January 27, 2020). Gastric Cardia Adenocarcinoma with Metastasis to the Scalp: A Case Report. Cureus 12(1): e6781. DOI 10.7759/cureus.6781

  11. Molleston, J.M., Sabin, L.R., Moy, R.H., Menghani, S.V., Rausch, K., Gordesky-Gold, B., Hopkins, K.C., Zhou, R., Jensen, T.H., Wilusz, J.E., and Cherry, S. (2016). A conserved virus-induced cytoplasmic TRAMP-like complex recruits the exosome to target viral RNA for degradation. Genes Dev Vol. 30, Issue 14, pp. 1658-1670.

  12. Hopkins, K.C., Tartell, M.A., Herrmann, C., Hackett, B.A., Taschuk, F., Panda, D., Menghani, S.V., Sabin, L.R., and Cherry, S. (2015). Virus-induced translational arrest through 4EBP1/2-dependent decay of 5'TOP mRNAs restricts viral infection. PNAS Vol. 112, No. 22, pp. E2920–E2929.

Conference Posters/Abstracts/Other:
  1. Menghani, S.V. N,N-Dimethyldithiocarbamate Elicits Pneumococcal Hypersensitivity to Copper and Macrophage-Mediated Clearance publication in IAI featured on TWiM Podcast published July 1, 2022
  2. Menghani, S.V., Durando, M.L., Scott, A.J. Sustained remission in a patient with POLE mutation-associated primary colorectal cancer treated with anti-PD-1 therapy: a case report. Cancer Research: Present and Future hosted by The University of Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson, AZ and Online; August 2021 [Poster]
  3. Kocharian, A., Menghani, S.V., Bhalodi, R.G., et al. (2021, June 04). Policy Number TBD. Equitable Reporting of USMLE Step 1 Scores. American Medical Association – Medical Student Section Digest of Policy Actions, Pub Status: Published
  4. Menghani, S.V., Pok, C., Rivera, A., Alvin, J.W., Johnson, M.D.L. Testing the activity of a novel copper dependent antimicrobial against Streptococcus pneumoniae in a variety of growth media. 2021 World Microbe Forum, Online; June 2021 [Abstract and Poster]
  5. O’Brien, H.Y., Alvin, J.W., Menghani, S.V., Van Doorslaer, K., and Johnson, M.D.L. Extending the operator sequence of the CopR/CopY family copper export system repressors. 2021 World Microbe Forum, Online; June 2021 [Abstract and Poster]
  6. Pok, C., Menghani, S.V., Sanchez-Rosario, Y.S.R., Johnson, M.D.L. Demonstrating the activity of a novel copper-dependent antimicrobial against Streptococcus pneumoniae under various metal conditions in nutrient-rich and host-niche-mimicking media. 2021 Virtual Arizona/Southern Nevada ASM Branch Meeting, Online, April 2021 [Poster] *First place – Graduate Poster Presentation Award
  7. ​​Du, P.Z., Barton, D., Menghani, S.V., Kempton, D.M., Lowe, J.A. Comparison of Clinical Outcomes Between Short, Intermediate, and Long Cephalomedullary Nails: A Retrospective Review. Scientific Forum at American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 2020, Chicago, IL; October 2020 [Virtual Oral Presentation and Abstract]
  8. Du, P.Z., Barton, D., Menghani, S.V., Kempton, D.M., Lowe, J.A. “Comparison of Clinical Outcomes Between Cephalomedullary Nail Lengths: A Retrospective Review. Western Orthopaedic Association 84th Annual Meeting, Maui, HI; August 2020 [Virtual Oral Presentation and Abstract]
  9. Menghani, S.V. Staying Engaged academically while in quarantine. ACP Arizona Medical Student Newsletter; Summer 2020. [Editorial]
  10. Menghani, S.V., Rivera, A., Alvin, J.W., Neubert, M.W., Johnson, M.D.L. A novel copper-dependent antimicrobial against Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae. 15th Annual Frontiers in Immunobiology & Immunopathogenesis Symposium 2020, Tucson, AZ; March 2020 [Poster]
  11. Menghani, S.V., Rivera, A., Alvin, J.W., Neubert, M.W., Johnson, M.D.L. A novel copper-dependent antimicrobial against Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae. ACP Arizona Chapter Scientific Meeting 2019, Tucson, AZ; October 2019 [Poster]
  12. Menghani, S.V., Rivera, A., Alvin, J.W., Neubert, M.W., Johnson, M.D.L. Testing the activity of a novel copper-dependent antimicrobial against Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Joint Biology Research Retreat 2019, Oracle, AZ; September 2019 [Poster]
  13. O’Brien, H.Y., Alvin, J.W., Menghani, S.V., Van Doorslaer, K., and Johnson, M.D.L. Characterization of consensus operator site for Streptococcus pneumoniaecopper repressor, CopY. bioRxiv 676700; doi: [Pre-Print]
  14. Alvin, J.W., O’Brien, H., Menghani, S.V., Neubert, M.W., Van Doorslaer, K., and Johnson, M.D.L. Characterization of CopY DNA Repression in Streptococcus pneumoniae. ASM Microbe 2019, San Francisco, CA; June 2019 [Poster]
  15. Brennan, C., Feigenbaum, K., Krumlauf, M., Gartell, K., Menghani, S.V., and Cusack, G. Measurement of Patient Acuity Related to Clinical Research: Concept Clarification and Review of the Literature. AcademyHealth 2016 Annual Research Meeting, Boston, MA; June 2016. [Poster]
  16. Mayberry, H., Miller-Davis, C., Lee, C., Menghani, S.V., and Brennan, C. The Challenges of Implementing a Patient-Centered Approach to Falls Prevention. 2016 18th Annual NPSF Congress, Scottsdale, AZ; May 2016. [Poster].
  17. Menghani S.V., Molleston, J.M., Cherry, S. Degradation of Rift Valley Fever virus RNA by the cellular RNA exosome. University of Pennsylvania College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biochemistry Student Presentations – BCHE404, Philadelphia, PA; April 2015. [Poster]
MD-PhD Committee Student Rep: 
MD-PhD Committee Student Rep