Sima Tokajian

Professor of Biology

@STokajian hiker, biker, nature lover, with an all-time passion for Microbial Genomics

Dr. Sima Tokajian is a professor of Microbial Genomics. She joined LAU in 2005 as a full-time assistant professor of Microbial Genomics. In 2019, she was promoted to the rank of full professor and was the chairperson of the Department of Natural Sciences.

Research Interests and Projects

Dr. Tokajian is a dedicated, versatile professional with proven experience in teaching and research in Microbial Genomics. She was at the forefront of using next-generation sequencing to study problems ranging from infectious disease diagnostic to outbreak epidemiology, microbial pathogenesis, microbiome, and resistance mechanisms. Her research interests lie in using next-generation sequencing for the molecular characterization of pathogenic bacteria, studying the molecular epidemiology of outbreaks and implementing, developing, and introducing emerging computational biology and bioinformatics tools for the analysis of genomic data. Research in her lab involves an interdisciplinary approach using microbial genomics, cellular microbiology, and bioinformatics to understand microbial pathogenesis.

She excelled at providing leadership and insight to graduate students on various research projects. Some areas of particular interest included microbial pathogenomics, genomic epidemiology, mobile elements and plasmids, antimicrobial resistance patterns, phylogenomics, and tracking transmission and evolution of new resistance patterns. She is currently targeting the in-depth genomic analysis of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (E. faeciumS. aureusK. pneumoniaeA. baumanniiP. aeruginosa and Enterobacter spp.), which are acronymically labeled as the ESKAPE pathogens. Additionally, and with the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, her lab using sequenced genomes was able to identify functional domains in SARS-CoV-2 and is currently looking into the phylogenetic networks of SARS-CoV-2 genomes sampled from across the country.

SDGs Research Mapping

Dr. Sima Tokajian conducts research relevant to the following SDGs:

Selected Publications

  1. Issa, E., Merhi, G., Panossian, B., Salloum, T., Tokajian, S. SARS-CoV-2 and ORF3a: Non-Synonymous Mutations, Functional Domains, and Viral Pathogenesis. mSystems. DOI: 10.1128/mSystems.00266-20
  2. Issa, E., Salloum, T., Tokajian, S. Streptococcus intermedius: from Normal Flora to Brain Abscesses-A review. Frontiers Microbiol. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2020.00826
  3. Makke, G., Bitar, I., Salloum, T., Panossian, B., Alousi, S., Arabaghian, H., Medvecky, M., Hrabak, J., Merheb-Ghoussoub, S., Tokajian, S. 2020. Whole-Genome-Sequence-Based Characterization of Extensively Drug-Resistant Acinetobacter baumannii Hospital Outbreak. mSphere. DOI: 10.1128/mSphere.00934-19
  4. Fattel, L., Panossian, B., Salloum, T., Abboud, E., Tokajian, S. 2019. Genomic Features of Vibrio parahaemolyticus from Lebanon and Comparison to Globally Diverse Strains by Whole-Genome Sequencing. Foodborne Pathog Dis doi.org/10.1089/fpd.2018.2618
  5. Issa, E., Salloum, T., Panossian, B., Ayoub, D., Abboud, E., Tokajian, S. 2019. Genome Mining and Comparative Analysis of Streptococcus intermedius Causing Brain Abscess in a Child.  Pathogens. 8: 22
  6. Toutounji, M., Tokajian, S., Khalaf, R. 2019. Genotypic and phenotypic characterization of Candida albicans Lebanese hospital isolates resistant and sensitive to caspofunginFung Gen Biol. 127: 12-22.
  7. Ballantine, R., McCallion, C., Nassour, E., Tokajian, S., Cochrane, S. 2019. Tridecaptin-inspired antimicrobial peptides with activity against multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. Med Chem Comm 10: 484-487.
  8. Bitar, I., Moussa, J., Abboud, E., Hrabak, J., Tokajian, S. 2019. Integration of two pKPX-2-derived antibiotic resistance islands in the genome of an ESBL-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae ST3483 from Lebanon. J Glob Anti Resist. 18: 257-259.
  9. Arabaghian, H., Salloum, T., Alousi, S., Panossian, B., Araj, G., Tokajian, S. 2019. Molecular Characterization of Carbapenem Resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae and Klebsiella quasipneumoniae Isolated from Lebanon. Sci Rep. 9:531 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-36554-2
  10. Panossian, P., Salloum, T., Araj, G., Khazen, G., Tokajian, S. 2018. First insights on the genetic diversity of MDR Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Lebanon. BMC Infect Dis. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12879-018-3626-3

Academic Degrees

  • PhD in Molecular Microbiology, 2003, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, England
  • MS in Microbiology, 1993, University of Jordan
  • BS in Biological Analysis, 1990, University of Jordan