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Radamés J.B. Cordero, PhD

  • Research Associate

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PhD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 2012
MS, Albert Einstein School of Medicine, 2008
BS, University of Puerto Rico - Arecibo, 2005


Dr. Cordero is a Research Associate in the Casadevall laboratory. His research employs biophysical methods to study the biology of fungal melanins. In particular, Dr. Cordero studies how melanization impacts energy capture and dissipation in yeast model systems.

Honors and Awards

2018 CFAR Scholar Award for Faculty Development, JHU, Baltimore, MD

2016 Biomedical Scholar Association Milestone for Academic Excellence, JHU, Baltimore, MD

2012-14 Young Talent Attraction Grant Award, Science without Borders, CnPq/CAPES, Brasil

2008 Honors in Master of Science Degree (Class 2012), Einstein, USA

2007-09 T32 Molecular and Cellular Biology and Genetics Training Grant Award, NIH, USA

2005 Intramural Research Opportunity Program Award, NIAID, NIH, USA

2005 UPR President Award for Highest GPA in Microbiology Dept., 2005 Graduation, Arecibo, PR

2005 Graduate Minority Research Conference Travel Award, UC Irvine, USA

2004 Life Sciences Excellent Student Award, University of Puerto Rico

2004 Summer Research Associate Award, Purdue Cancer Center, NCI CURE Program, NIH

2004 Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting Travel Award, MD, USA

  • fungal melanin
  • polysaccharide capsule
  • microbial pathogenesis
  • Cryptococcus
  • radioprotection
  • energy budgets
  • thermal biology
  • infrared imaging
  • color-mediated thermoregulation
  • thermography
  • infrared camera
  • energy transduction
  • heat
  • temperature
  • solar
  • radiation shielding
  • energy storage
  • photovoltaics
  • scholarly communication practices

Most recent publications about melanin:

  • Impact of Yeast Pigmentation on Heat Capture and Latitudinal Distribution. Cordero RJB, Robert V, Cardinali G, Arinze ES, Thon SM, Casadevall A. Curr Biol. 2018 Aug 20;28(16):2657-2664.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.06.034. Epub 2018 Aug 2. Pigmentation is a fundamental characteristic of living organisms that is used to absorb radiation energy and to regulate temperature. Since darker pigments absorb more radiation than lighter ones, they stream more heat, which can provide an adaptive advantage at higher latitudes and a disadvantage near the Tropics, because of the risk of overheating. This intuitive process of color-mediated thermoregulation, also known as the theory of thermal melanism (TTM), has been only tested in ectothermic animal models. Here, we report an association between yeast pigmentation and their latitude of isolation, with dark-pigmented isolates being more frequent away from the Tropics. To measure the impact of microbial pigmentation in energy capture from radiation, we generated 20 pigmented variants of Cryptococcus neoformans and Candida spp. Infrared thermography revealed that dark-pigmented yeasts heated up faster and reached higher temperatures (up to 2-fold) than lighter ones following irradiation. Melanin-pigmented C. neoformans exhibited a growth advantage relative to non-melanized yeasts when incubated under the light at 4°C but increased thermal susceptibility at 25°C ambient temperatures. Our results extend the TTM to microbiology and suggest pigmentation as an ancient adaptation mechanism for gaining thermal energy from radiation. The contribution of microbial pigmentation in heat absorption is relevant to microbial ecology and for estimating global temperatures. The color variations available in yeasts provide new opportunities in chromatology to quantify radiative heat transfer and validate biophysical models of heat flow that are not possible with plants or animals.
  • Microbial melanins for radioprotection and bioremediation Cordero RJB, Vij R, Casadevall A. Microb Biotechnol. 2017 Sep;10(5):1186-1190. doi: 10.1111/1751-7915.12807. Epub 2017 Aug 14. Microbial melanins provide a biocompatible and scalable approach for bioremediation and radioprotection technologies due to their physicochemical properties.
  • Melanin for space travel radioprotection. Cordero RJB. Environ Microbiol. 2017 Jul;19(7):2529-2532. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.13753. Epub 2017 May 29. Melanins are special biomolecules capable of shield- ing from ionizing radiation, a property that could be exploited for interplanetary manned space travel.
  • Melanin, Radiation, and Energy Transduction in Fungi Casadevall A, Cordero RJB, Bryan R, Nosanchuk J, Dadachova E. Microbiol Spectr. 2017 Mar;5(2). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.FUNK-0037-2016. Review. Melanin pigments are found in many diverse fungal species, where they serve a variety of functions that promote fitness and cell survival. Melanotic fungi inhabit some of the most extreme habitats on earth such as the damaged nuclear reactor at Chernobyl and the highlands of Antarctica, both of which are high-radiation environments. Melanotic fungi migrate toward radioactive sources, which appear to enhance their growth. This phenomenon, combined with the known capacities of melanin to absorb a broad spectrum of electromagnetic radiation and transduce this radiation into other forms of energy, raises the possibility that melanin also functions in harvesting such energy for biological usage. The ability of melanotic fungi to harness electromagnetic radiation for physiological processes has enormous implications for biological energy flows in the biosphere and for exobiology, since it provides new mechanisms for survival in extraterrestrial conditions. Whereas some features of the way melanin-related energy transduction works can be discerned by linking various observations and circumstantial data, the mechanistic details remain to be discovered.
  • Thermal biology of fungi