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Bacterial pathogenesis is studied by an eminent group of prokaryotic molecular biologists within the program. This includes Drs. Azad, Barry, Bavoil, Carbonetti, Ceraul, Donnenberg, Dumler, Ernst, Feng , Gillespie, Goodlett, Kaper, Levine, Oglesby-Sherrouse, Pedra, Rahman, Rasko, Shirtliff and Vogel. Their work is focused on human pathogens such as Bordetella pertussis, Vibrio cholerae, Escherichia coli, Clostridium difficile, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Francisella tularensis, Salmonella, Shigella, Rickettsia, Chlamydia and Staphylococcus. Basic research is aimed at elucidation of mechanisms of pathogenesis and the role of individual virulence factors in infection and disease. Collaboration with the Immunology groups allows investigation of the interplay between infection and the immune response of the host. Molecular characterization of bacterial virulence determinants has led to the identification of targets for immune protection and the production of efficacious vaccines. Genetically modified bacteria are also being used as vaccine vectors to induce anti-bacterial and anti-viral immune responses.

At the Institute for Genome Sciences, Drs. Fraser, Dunning-Hotopp, Rasko, Ravel and Tettelin are utilizing genomic approaches to study human microbiomes in health and disease, to explore population genomics of bacterial pathogens, and to identify possible novel vaccine antigens.

Dr. Fouad studies the identification and analysis of endodontic bacterial pathogens and the treatment of the resulting endodontic disease. In addition, the molecular biology of halophilic archaea (archaebacteria) is under study by Dr. DasSarma.

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Research Spotlight:

UM SOM Researchers Unravel Mechanism That Plays Key Role in Sexual Differentiation of Brain

McCarthyDuring prenatal development, the brains of most animals, including humans, develop specifically male or female characteristics. In most species, some portions of male and female brains are a different size, and often have a different number of neurons and synapses. However, scientists have known little about the details of how this differentiation occurs. Now, a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) has illuminated some details about how this occurs.‌

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