Infectious Diseases Pathogenesis and Immunology

Mycology: The laboratory of Dr. Bruce Klein is a molecular medical mycology research group with two broad areas of focus: fungal pathogenesis and immunology. The multiple projects in the lab address common questions in pathogenesis and immunology: what are the mechanisms of fungal virulence, how does the host-pathogen interaction define the progression of infection and disease, how does the immune system respond to fungal infection, and what are the key immunological steps required for vaccine induced immunity to fungal pathogens? The goal of Dr. Greg Gauthier's research is to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie the ability of pathogenic fungi to cause disease in humans. His focus is on deciphering how the thermally dimorphic fungi, such as Blastomyces dermatitidis (the etiologic agent of blastomycosis), undergo the transition between mold and yeast, and acquire iron from the environment. In addition to the study of drug resistance associated with fungal biofilms, Dr. David Andes' lab is using in vivo biofilm models to identify the molecular basis for the various stages of biofilm formation to identify potential targets for prevention or therapy.

 

 

Virology: Dr. Shannon Kenney’s research effort is focused upon understanding the molecular regulation and pathogenesis of the human herpesvirus, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Her work in EBV spans a broad range of topics, including viral gene regulation, the effects of the virus on the host immune response, and the development of novel, EBV-targeted therapies for EBV-positive tumors. Dr. Eric Johannsen's research focuses on the molecular biology of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) nuclear proteins, their role in the virus lifecycle and the pathogenesis of EBV associated malignancies. Herpesviruses infect their hosts for life and EBV precisely manipulates growth and survival signaling pathways of B lymphocytes, resulting in their immortalization. Understanding the mechanisms that EBV has evolved to exploit infected cells is an important basis for therapy of EBV associated diseases and offers a unique vantage from which to view and understand complex cellular pathways. Dr. Rob Striker is interested in new approaches to control RNA viruses, particularly Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and Dengue Virus. His research team has multiple bench top and clinical research projects going on currently, and the unifying theme of these projects is to more fully capitalize on viral genetics to understand and ultimately eradicate specific viral pathogens. The team analyzes clinical databases, and performs wet lab experiments to link functional data with viral genotype.

 

 

Infectious Disease Evolution: Dr. Caitlin Pepperell's group studies forces that shape the evolution of human pathogens, examines ways human evolution has been influenced by infectious diseases, and how the environment affects population-level patterns of infectious disease. She tackles these questions by studying genetic and other types of data from humans and human pathogens. She is particularly interested in granulomatous diseases, e.g. tuberculosis and the endemic mycoses. She hopes that a better understanding of evolutionary interactions between humans and pathogenic microbes will lead to improvements in disease control, antimicrobial therapy and vaccines.