Summary: Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular gram-negative bacteria that are responsible for a wide range of diseases in both animal and human hosts. According to the CDC, Chlamydia trachomatis is the most frequently reported sexually transmitted infection in the United States, costing the American healthcare system nearly $2.4 billion annually. Every year, there are over 4 million new cases of Chlamydia in the United States and an estimated 92 million cases worldwide. Undiagnosed cases can lead to serious health sequelae such as pelvic inflammatory disease and tubal infertility. Additionally, chlamydia infections are clinically associated with cytologic cervical atypia and epidemiologically linked to an increase in the risk for developing cervical cancer.

My lab’s overall interest is to understand the mechanisms that Chlamydia employs to establish the infectious cycle in the host cell. Through the use of varied techniques such as live cell imaging, dynamic modeling, next-gen sequencing and quantitative fluorescent microscopy my work is directed at uncovering the intertwined molecular interface between prokaryotic parasites and their target eukaryotic hosts.

Minimum Classes: N/A

Projects: Investigating the role of chlamydial infection as a contributing factor in the induction and progression of cervical cancer. We have determined that Chlamydia trachomatis infection causes genomic instability by inducing the over duplication of centrosomes, causing premature mitotic exit and restricting reorganization of the centrosome/microtubule network.

Understanding the molecular mechanisms of chlamydial cell type differentiation. Chlamydia have a unique developmental cycle that generates specialized cell types. Chlamydia exist in one of two unique developmental forms the EB or the RB cell type. The EB is metabolically inactive but is the infectious form capable of cell invasion while the RB cell type is the replicative form. Chlamydia must complete the developmental program cycling between the EB and RB and back to EB in order to survive and cause disease.
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