Dr. Bankhead has an active research program studying the mechanisms of persistence and pathogenesis exhibited by the Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi.
His research is primarily in:
- Antigenic variation, which provides this pathogen with the ability to establish long-term infection in an animal or human host.
- Examining the mechanistic details of this immune evasion system. This investigation has given clues to putative genetic elements involved in the process.
Dr. Bankhead's long-term goal is to identify the proteins required for antigenic variation, as well as the mammalian host factors responsible for activating this system.
Additional research includes identifying genes involved in the adaptation of the bacterium to both the host animal and tick vector. The aim is to discover host adaptation genes of the Lyme disease pathogen. Dr. Bankhead also investigates other Borrelia species that cause relapsing fever endemic to sub-Saharan Africa and neighboring regions.
Dr. Bankhead is an associate professor in both the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology within the WSU College of Veterinary