Dr. Omsland conducts research on Coxiella burnetii and Chlamydia trachomatis.C.
burnetii is a zoonotic pathogen that causes human Q fever.C. trachomatisis a leading
cause of sexually transmitted diseases, as well as trachoma, a potentially blinding ocular
infection most commonly diagnosed in developing countries.
Both C. burnetii and C. trachomatis are obligate intracellular bacterial parasites that
depend on invasion of eukaryotic host cells to establish infection and complete their
biphasic developmental, and infectious cycles. As parasites C. burnetii and C.
trachomatis lack the ability to synthesize numerous nutrients but rather scavenge these
from their host cells. Over the past few years Dr. Omsland’s research has focused on
understanding physiochemical and nutritional requirements of obligate intracellular
parasites and development of host cell-free (axenic) culture techniques to facilitate their
physiological analyses. Moreover, axenic culture facilitates development of diagnostic,
epidemiological and genetic tools for the study of these otherwise “hard-to-handle”
pathogens. Long-term research interests include nutritional regulation of pathogen
virulence and developmental cycles, and the metabolic basis of persistent infections.