Distinguished University Professor
Office: DHB N02A (3602 Spectrum Boulevard)
Virulence mechanisms of pathogenic bacteria; rapid identification of pathogens; sample processing; biosensors; public health relevance of bacterial pathogens
The primary focus of our research is the characterization of virulence mechanisms in pathogenic bacteria and development of innovative technology to rapidly detect and identify microbial pathogens in food, water, air, surfaces, and infectious diseases.
Conventional procedures to detect and identify pathogens from complex matrices can take days to perform and may provide inconclusive information. Our research focuses on development of sample processing procedures and assays for rapid, accurate, and reproducible detection of pathogenic microorganisms. We have developed rapid processing methods and concentration protocols for complex matrix samples such as ground beef, apple juice, produce, potable water, recreational water, human blood, and saliva, enabling such samples to be directly tested by biosensors and other detection platforms for target analytes. Assays developed by our laboratory for agents such as Bacillus anthracis, E. coli O157:H7, Vibrio cholerae, Vaccinia virus, and ricin have been optimized for reproducibility, sensitivity, and specificity, and tested on various detection platforms.
Our assay protocols include orthogonal testing to improve detection specificity and automated concentration procedures to improve detection sensitivity. We also have studied problems associated with target analyte capture efficiency and have developed methods to improve capture efficiency and assay sensitivity using antibodies and other capture molecules. This research, which is performed in close collaboration with federal and local public health agencies, food processors, and water utilities, is supported by the Department of Defense, NIH, NSF, EPA, and other agencies, and can significantly improve public health through rapid detection of microbial pathogens and reduction of disease morbidity and mortality.