Our laboratory focuses on the pathogenesis of bacterial sexually transmitted diseases, with an emphasis on the host-pathogen interactions between Haemophilus ducreyi, which causes chancroid, and the human host.
Our research focuses on host-pathogen interactions of the sexually transmitted bacterial pathogen Haemophilus ducreyi. H. ducreyi is a pathogen of human skin and causes chancroid, a genital ulcer disease endemic in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia that facilitates the transmission of HIV. In our research, we use molecular tools and confocal microscopy-based imaging analysis to understand virulence mechanisms by which H. ducreyi survives in vivo. We identify putative virulence factors and determine their roles in human disease through use of a human model of experimental infection. We also characterize these virulence factors at the molecular level and develop appropriate functional assays to define their roles in mechanisms such as adherence or resistance to the killing effects of human phagocytes. We have previously demonstrated that, throughout the course of disease, H. ducreyi survives extracellularly in a milieu of professional phagocytes.
Another focus of the lab is to define additional virulence factors based on our recently completed studies that defined a profile of H. ducreyi genes expressed during human infection.