Bacterial pathogenesis is studied by an eminent group of prokaryotic molecular biologists within the program. This includes Drs. Azad, Barry, Bavoil, Carbonetti, Chatterjee, Cross, Ernst, Feng, Gillespie, Goodlett, Kaper, Levine, Oglesby-Sherrouse, Pedra, Rahman, Rasko, Tennant 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.