Vaginal microbiome in health and disease
The vaginal mucosa is composed of perhaps hundreds of bacterial species, many of which have not yet been cultured or identified. These populations shift for unknown reasons, from healthy compositions to those that cause disease such as bacterial vaginosis (BV). Different profiles of species lead to complications ranging from recurrence, failed response to treatment, or risk of pre-term birth. Our microbiomics project seeks to characterize and count species, to describe the dynamics of populations as they transition to disease, and to identify species or groups that pose the highest risk for complications. We are testing models for causes of the microbial progression from BV to cure to recurrence. We are developing a BV diagnositic and prognostic device.
Molecular fungal diagnostics
Fungal infections are prevalent and prone to recurrence (vaginal) or have high morbidity (systemic). Their diagnosis by conventional culture is a problem, due to poor culture efficiency, slow growth rates, and low titer, so that diagnosis often occurs too late for effective treatment. We are developing and are validating molecular tools for their high throughput, quantitative identification directly from samples.
Antifungal drug resistance in Candida albicans
As a eukaryote, this opportunistic yeast pathogen is resourceful and diverse in finding ways to evade inhibition by antifungal agents. These include mutation in target genes, mutational or regulatory activation of target and compensatory pathways, drug efflux, and unknown mechanisms. We developed an overexpression system for identification of genes that alter antifungal susceptibility and are inventorying these genes and their effects by RT-qPCR and microarray