Zoonotic Disease Pathogenesis and Transmission
The Allen School supports a variety of zoonotic disease research ranging from the intracellular behavior of pathogens to the development of surveillance and diagnostic techniques in developing countries. Much of this research work is completed at the Allen Center on the WSU campus while there are also satellite research facilities in Tanzania and Kenya.
The following snippets offer a short overview into the many research projects of the school. Click on a link to the researcher profiles for more detailed information about their work.
Borrelia (Lyme Disease and Relapsing Fever)
Researcher: Dr. Troy Bankhead
Dr. Bankhead’s research team studies mechanisms of persistence exhibited by Borrelia species. There is a focus on antigenic variation and the examination of the immune evasion system. In the long-term, the team seeks to identify the proteins required for antigenic variation and the mammalian host factors that activate the system.
Researcher: Dr. Kelly Brayton
Dr. Brayton uses comparative genomics, functional genomics, transcriptomics, and molecular methods to study hemoparasitic disease (specifically A. marginale). Her team also conducts research efforts in the biology of tick transmission processes and vaccine discovery.
Researcher: Dr. Susan Noh
Dr. Noh’s research goals are to develop methods to prevent tick-borne disease. Also studying A. marginale, her research efforts focus on the vector-pathogen interface and the interface between the pathogen and mammalian host.
Brucella abortus (Brucellosis)
Researcher: Dr. Jean Celli
Dr. Celli conducts a research program studying the mechanisms of intracellular survival and the proliferation of Brucella abortus, the causative agent of the worldwide zoonotic disease brucellosis. His team focuses on the functionality of secretion effector proteins and the role of host autophagy pathways in B. abortus dissemination.
Francisella tularensis (Tularemia)
Researcher: Dr. Tom Kawula
Dr. Kawula’s research group studies mechanisms by which the zoonotic bacterial pathogen Francisella tularensis suppresses host immunity and subverts infected cell metabolism to establish an intracellular environment that supports bacterial intracellular growth.
Researcher: Dr. Leigh Knodler
Dr. Knodler’s research team studies S. enterica, the leading bacterial cause of food-borne illness. Research focuses on understanding how enteropathogenic bacteria cause disease and the factors that dictate the intracellular fate of S. enterica in intestinal epithelial cells.
Coxiella burnetti and Chlamydia trachomatis (Q Fever and Trachoma)
Researcher: Dr. Anders Omsland
Dr. Omsland’s research focuses on understanding physiochemical and nutritional requirements of obligate intracellular parasites and techniques to facilitate their physiological analysis. Long-term research interests include nutritional regulation of pathogen virulence and the metabolic basis of persistent infections.
Yersinia pestis (Bubonic Plague)
Researcher: Dr. Viveka Vadyvaloo
Dr. Vadyvaloo conducts original research in the transmission and persistence of the etiological agents of the bubonic plague, Yersinia pestis. Her team focuses on the genetic basis of bacterial pathogen transmission and the persistence and re-emergence of the plague using both fleas and protozoa as host models. This work will lead towards a better understanding of these factors as a target for disease prevention.
Researcher: Dr. Margaret Davis
Dr. Davis’ lab uses genotyping methods to study transmission routes of zoonotic pathogens and their maintenance and dissemination in reservoir species. Secondarily, her lab explores the causes of antimicrobial resistance in bacterial pathogens.
Researcher: Dr. Timothy Baszler
Dr. Baszler’s research projects study the advancement and delivery of tools for laboratory diagnosticians and regulatory disease officials. This work focuses on global infectious disease surveillance and diagnostic capacity building in developing countries. His work with WADDL also allows him to explore the improvement of diagnostic laboratory Quality Management Systems related to laboratory biosafety and biosecurity practices.