Sharp, Julia A.



  • Dr. Sharp began her professional career as a Programmer/Analyst for a global computer sciences corporation. Whilst building complex computer programs was both engaging and intellectually satisfying, she felt something was amiss. To satiate her passion for biology, nature, and infectious disease, she took evening classes at Old Dominion University in pursuit of a BS in Biological Sciences degree; she graduated with a 4.0 GPA and was named the Outstanding Scholar for the College of Sciences. Subsequently, she earned a MS in Biological Sciences at ODU, with a concentration in infectious disease and pathogenesis, whilst studying the antimicrobial effects of a tick defensin on various bacteria. During her MS studies at ODU, she was a Graduate Teaching Assistant, with primary responsibilities in the Human Anatomy and Physiology series. The rewarding combination of research and teaching inspired her to pursue a doctoral degree with the goal of becoming a scientist/educator.

    Dr. Sharp earned a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from EVMS in Dr. Kenji Cunnion's lab, where she investigated the functional significance of Staphylococcus aureus' acquisition of the Complement regulator factor H as an immune-evasive mechanism. Her publication of this work became one of the Top 10% Most Cited PLoS One Articles of 2017. In recognition of her academic and research excellence, she was selected as an EVMS Health Professions Scholar and received multiple travel awards, including an International Complement Society Trainee Travel Award.

    Dr. Sharp completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Dr. Neel Krishna's lab at EVMS, where she contributed to the development of a novel complement inhibitor by studying the binding and functional properties of Peptide Inhibitor of C1 (PIC1) and its derivatives.

    In 2014, Dr. Sharp joined EVMS Microbiology and Molecular Cell Biology as an Instructor and also the Molecular Core Facility Director. At EVMS, she contributes to education in both the School of Health Professions and the School of Medicine. In recognition of her teaching, she was honored with the prestigious Crystal Apple Award in 2018 by the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program student body.

    Dr. Sharp's independent career began as an Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Cell Biology at EVMS in 2017; she became Co-PI of her first federal grant in 2019. In recognition of her accomplishments, she was presented with the EVMS Rising Star Faculty Award in 2019. Her research interests include immune evasion (especially complement-associated), anti-staphylococcal therapeutics, the effect of stress on the complement system, and MRSA in the community.

    Outside of work, Dr. Sharp enjoys spending time with her family, reading, gardening, bird watching, walking/hiking, and listening to music.

selected publications

research overview

  • Dr. Julia Sharp's training and expertise are in the areas of complement biology and microbiology. Research in her lab focus on the discovery of targets for and testing of potential anti-staphylococcal therapeutics. Her lab is also interested in the genomic variability of Staphylococcus aureus in the community. Additionally, the Sharp lab is investigating how stress and sleep fragmentation affect the expression, regulation and activity of the complement system.

    As a graduate student in Dr. Wayne Hynes' lab, she tested the antimicrobial effects of a tick defensin on various bacteria. Through this training, she gained expertise in insect cell culture, protein purification, Western blotting, and well-diffusion/microtiter assays. As a graduate student in the lab of Kenji Cunnion, she demonstrated the functional significance of the acquisition of complement factor H by S. aureus (Sharp and Cunnion, Molecular Immunology, 2011). Further, she identified SdrE as the S. aureus protein responsible for factor H recruitment revealing this binding as an immune evasion tactic (Sharp et al, PLoS One, 2011). In this work, she became proficient with complement assays, recombinant protein expression and purification, size-exclusion and ionic exchange chromatography, immunodot blotting, custom ELISAs, protein:protein binding assays and neutrophil purification. For her post-doctoral training, she worked in Dr. Neel Krishna's lab, where she focused on the development and testing of a novel complement inhibitor, Peptide Inhibitor of C1 (PIC1), and its derivatives. She characterized the binding relationship between PIC1 and key initiator proteins of the complement system and investigated the interaction domain between protein-binding partners (Mauriello et al, Molecular Immunology, 2012; Shah et al, Transfusion, 2014; Sharp et al, PLoS One, 2015; Hair et al, International Journal of Peptide Research Therapy, 2017). During this training, she gained expertise in protein binding assay development, cross linking, solubility testing, peptide design, and hemolytic assays. As Director of the Molecular Core Facility, Dr. Sharp also has expertise in Affymetrix microarray and Sanger sequencing.

preferred title

  • Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Cell Biology; Molecular Core Facility Director

full name

  • Julia A. Sharp, Ph.D.


Recent publications and grants in Researchers@EVMS