Faculty Profile

Leigh Knodler

Leigh Knodler

Assistant Professor


Phone: 509-335-4046


Our lab conducts research on the Gram-negative bacterium, Salmonella enterica, which is the leading bacterial cause of food-borne illness in the U.S.A. and worldwide. Ingestion of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) leads to acute gastroenteritis in humans and some animal species.

My research is focused on:

  • Understanding how enteropathogenic bacteria cause diarrheal disease
  • Studying how epithelial cells sense intracellular bacteria
  • Elucidating bacterial factors that dictate the intracellular fate of Salmonella in intestinal epithelial cells

We recently described discovered a novel means of bacterial egress from polarized intestinal epithelial cells, a phenomenon that might explain how Salmonella spreads within a host and to new hosts (Knodler et al., 2010). While S. Typhimurium has long been known to reside within a membrane-bound compartment, the Salmonella-containing vacuole (SCV), we identified a population of bacteria that escape from their vacuole and hyper- replicate in the nutrient-rich cytosol of intestinal epithelial cells. We use cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry and microscopy techniques with in vitro models of intestinal epithelium to study how Salmonella evades host cell defenses to survive and proliferate in the cytosol, and the mechanism of inflammatory host cell death that eventually releases these bacteria into the gut lumen.

Dr. Knodler is an assistant professor in the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health