M.Sc., University of Calcutta, India
Ph.D., University of Illinois College of Medicine
phone: (336) 716-1124
“I will strive to foster an environment that allows free and open exchange of ideas and is conducive to the growth of the new students and postdoctoral fellows as successful and independent scientists. I will attempt to expose them to a combination of the established and newly emerging hypotheses and techniques, thereby promoting to their intellectual and scientific development.”
DETAILED AREAS OF INTEREST:
1. Functional Genomics. By mining the sequenced genomes, we have identified several new genes and loci in Bordetella. We are currently utilizing in vitro systems, cell culture and mouse models (including knockout and immuno-deficient mice) to study their role in controlling gene expression and contributing to adhesion, resistance to host defenses and respiratory tract colonization.
2. Development of better vaccines for B. pertussis. Alum, the current adjuvant in acellular pertussis vaccines (aPV) fails to elicit appropriate immune responses for optimum protection against B. pertussis. Thus, substitution of alum with an adjuvant that induces Th1-type responses may increase vaccine efficacy. This could be particularly advantageous if the immune-stimulatory activity was derived from B. pertussis itself, thus providing both adjuvant function and an additional B. pertussis antigen in a novel aPV combination. We have identified Bordetella Colonization Factor A (BcfA) as an immune-stimulatory factor. BcfA has adjuvant function and induces Th1 type T cell responses. We are currently testing the ability of BcfA to enhance immune responses to current vaccines.
3. Bacterial biofilms. Biofilms are highly structured communities of cells that are encased in a self-produced polymeric organic matrix and are increasingly recognized as important contributors to chronic or persistent diseases. We hypothesize that the prevalent nasopharyngeal carriage of B. pertussis in adults and adolescents represents the biofilm state. The preliminary and published results with B. pertussis biofilms in mice strongly implicate this lifestyle in humans. We are examining the role of the biofilm-associated Bps polysaccharide in biofilm development, and pathogenesis of B. pertussis. We are also investigating the contribution of the host innate and adaptive in the progression of biofilm.
4. Effectiveness of small molecules on the colonization of and biofilm formation by Bordetella in the murine respiratory tract. We have shown that a new class of compounds inhibits bacterial biofilm formation in vitro. The mouse models of Bordetella infection represent a robust system to examine whether these compounds inhibit biofilm formation and/or disrupt a pre-existing respiratory tract biofilm. We have also identified an essential regulator in B. pertussis that regulates genes critical for laboratory survival. Experiments are underway to identify small molecules that inhibit its activity.