Overview of Research Interests
My research focuses on bacteria-host interactions, with a particular interest in pathogenic spirochetes. The overarching theme of my laboratory is to discover how these microbes persist and cause long-term, even lifelong, infections in their hosts. My current work centers on the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is the most common arthropod-borne disease that affects humans in the United States. I am particularly interested in understanding why B. burgdorferi has a tropism for the central nervous system, and how the spirochete causes debilitating neurological disease in a significant percentage of its victims. I am also interested in elucidating the function of outer surface proteins that interact with the mammalian hosts’ extracellular matrix, cells, and components of the immune system, and the regulatory mechanisms controlling the expression of these infection-associated proteins.
Research Focus: The host-pathogen interface
Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi
The overarching theme of the laboratory is to discover how these microbes persist and cause long-term, even lifelong, infections
Lyme disease is the most common arthropod-borne disease that affects humans in the United States, with an estimated 300,000 cases per year
Why does B. burgdorferi has a tropism for certain tissue?
What are the function(s) of B. burgdorferi’s “hypothetical” proteins?
How does B. burgdorferi control the expression of virulence factors?
How do epigenetic modifications affect host response?
Impact: Understanding the specific interactions at the host-pathogen interface will lead to development of novel therapies against B. burgdorferi, as well as other extracellular, vector-borne and zoonotic pathogens.