I am interested in the molecular mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis, particularly in the mechanisms which allow colonization and carriage of Bordetella pertussis. B. pertussis is the Gram-negative bacterium that causes whooping cough (pertussis). The pathogenesis of B. pertussis is not completely understood, and questions about carriage in adults (the reservoir) and the long-term efficacy of the new acellular pertussis vaccines have yet to be adequately addressed. We are currently experiencing resurgence in pertussis. The reason for this is not known.
My laboratory seeks to:
1. understand the mechanisms by which B. pertussis colonizes (vaccinated) individuals,
2. elucidate the mechanisms by which the BrkA protein, a key mediator of B. pertussis’ resistance to complement-dependent killing, is secreted by the bacterium, and
3. develop tools to perform whole genome analyses of B. pertussis in order to track emerging strains.