The rapid emergence and spread of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens are among the greatest threats to public health. These pathogens are commonly encountered in both community and healthcare settings and are responsible for an increasing number of infections worldwide. Many of the most concerning multi- or pan-drug resistant bacteria are opportunistic pathogens that require some degree of impaired host immunity to cause disease. This suggests that approaches that target the host to enhance immunity may provide an antibiotic-independent means of treating infections caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
Our lab is focused on investigations of the host immune response to bacterial pathogens. We use mouse models of pneumonia and sepsis caused by some of the most relevant antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens, such as Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus, to understand aspects of the innate immune response that are either protective or detrimental to the host during the course of disease. By developing an understanding of how bacteria are differentially recognized by the host, we aim to identify methods of altering innate immunity in to enhance the clearance of bacterial pathogens and limit the manifestations of these infections.