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MMI Research Areas

Bacteriology

 

Microbial diseases continue to present a major threat to human health. Nearly 25% of the annual deaths worldwide are directly related to bacterial infections and many bacterial strains are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. As a result, many are concerned that we may be entering what has been termed the post-antibiotic era. To overcome these threats to human health, research in bacterial pathogenesis and the development of new diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutic strategies remains a critical task at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Currently, the study of pathogenic bacteria is undergoing a major revolution, with an extensive focus on what has been termed molecular pathogens -- driven by advances in genome sequencing, new screening technologies, proteomics, comparative genomics, bioinformatics, in vivo expression analyses and new bio-imaging techniques. Thus for the first time it has become possible to investigate the role of individual proteins during infection in real time. All these technological advances and their application in bacteriology contribute to a better understanding of host pathogen interactions and host immune responses on the molecular and physiological level. The term “cellular microbiology” has recently been created to describe this exciting new field in microbiology. It has become obvious that pathogenesis is the result of a detailed cross-talk between bacteria and also between bacteria and the host. This communication occurs on many levels and is currently the focus of intense investigation. However, despite massive accumulation of new scientific knowledge over the past decade, this knowledge has generated ever more complex questions and issues for investigation, and this explosion of knowledge appears to be only in its initial stages. Our faculty is actively engaged at the cutting edge of this research and they seek to learn more about th molecular mechanisms basis of bacterial pathogenesis. Our hope is to translate our research such that new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines can be developed and used to combat bacterial infection. that occur during the infection process and ultimately can cause severe diseases and death.

Bacterial pathogenesis groups in our department use state-of-the-art technologies to investigate various aspects of the interactions between bacterial pathogens and the host. Microorganisms under investigation include Bordetella pertussis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Helicobacter pylori, Campylobacter species, Vibrio cholerae and Escherichia coli. These organisms are significant human pathogens that inflict considerable morbidity and mortality on individuals and cause enormous economic and health burdens for our society. Research that will ultimately help to fight these diseases is therefore not only very exciting, but can additionally be very rewarding.