Assistant Professor, Department of Biology
Intracellular bacterial pathogens reprogram host cells to promote their survival, leading to devastating mortality and morbidity worldwide. Our research focuses on revealing how bacterial pathogens usurp host cell function to gain insights into both host cell biology and pathogenesis. In particular, we focus on how intracellular bacterial pathogens (e.g. Listeria monocytogenes and Rickettsia parkeri) hijack host machinery to move throughout tissues via cell-to-cell spread. This critical yet understudied virulence mechanism allows bacteria continued access to cytosolic nutrients and avoidance of humoral immune responses. However, moving through tissues without destroying cell integrity presents challenges, and we are investigating how bacteria spread by targeting host pathways of intercellular communication, such as trans-endocytosis, cell adhesion, and mechanotransduction.