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Reducing the Impact of Infectious Diseases by Supporting Trans-Disciplinary Academic Research


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Joshua Eby

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Joshua C. Eby is Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases. His research focuses on the Bordetella pertussis, host-pathogen interaction. He studies the effect of adenylate cyclase toxin on cells of the innate immunodefense system, with particular interest in neutrophils. Most recently, his group has been taking a fresh look at pertussis pathogenesis using in vivo transposon sequencing and in vivo RNA sequencing. The studies are also lending novel insight into B. pertussis metabolism. Dr. Eby is an Infectious Diseases clinician which informs his research and collaborations.

Edward Egelman

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Edward H. Egelman is the Harrison Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. He has been widely recognized for his development of methods to determine the structure of helical polymers using electron microscopy. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and of the Biophysical Society, and has served as Editor-in-Chief of Biophysical Journal and as President of the Biophysical Society. A large part of his research involves studying bacterial polymers (adhesion and conjugation pili, flagellar filaments, Type VI Secretion System sheaths, Type III Secretion System needles and plasmid segregation filaments) that are essential for bacterial pathogenesis. He has played a leading role in the current revolution in cryo-EM where polymers that can never be crystallized can be solved at near-atomic resolution using microscopic methods.

Daniel Engel

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Daniel Engel is Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology. Dr. Engel’s research focuses on drug discovery for four viruses that are well known global infectious disease agents.  Influenza, dengue fever, Zika fever and Ebola hemorrhagic fever are diseases caused by highly pathogenic RNA viruses that have proven difficult to target for drug discovery. For influenza, the yearly "seasonal" vaccine does not keep up with the constant genetic drift of the virus, or with new pandemic strains. For dengue virus, there are no vaccines or drugs available despite approximately 100 million cases per year worldwide. Ebola virus and Zika virus remain unchallenged by pharmaceuticals.  His laboratory has developed new approaches to identifying chemical inhibitors for these viruses, using the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a test tube. They genetically modify yeast to express specific viral proteins or mammalian host factors. The cells are then challenged with large chemical libraries to identify novel compounds that can inhibit the function of the viral protein or host factor within the yeast cell, and also block virus replication in mammalian cell culture. The mechanisms of action of the compounds are studied using a combination of molecular, genetic, medicinal chemistry and structural biology methods.

Stephen Eubank

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Stephen Eubank is a Professor in the Biocomplexity Institute & Initiative and in the Department of Public Health Sciences. His research focuses on applying mathematical and computational formalisms for dynamical systems on socio-technical networks to health-related problems, e.g., the spread of infectious disease across mobility-driven human contact networks. As PI of a research grant in the NIGMS-funded MIDAS consortium, he has advocated for the use of large-scale simulations in planning responses to infectious disease outbreaks and advised both HHS and DoD on the response to the 2009 influenza pandemic and the West Africa Ebola outbreak. He is interested in incorporating a better understanding of the social and cognitive aspects of health-related behavior into simulations.

Sarah Ewald

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Sarah Ewald is an Assistant Professor in Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer in the Carter Immunology Center. Dr. Ewald studies how the immune system balances the need to clear infection with the risk of damage to self. The protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii is a master at manipulating this relationship with the immune system to promote persistence. A close relative of Plasmodium sp., the causative agent of malaria, Toxoplasma is possibly the most successful protozoan parasite. Infection is life-long and between 10-30% of the US is infected while the rate of infection in South America and France exceed 80%. Detection of Toxoplasma gondii and other eukaryotic pathogens poses a special problem for the innate immune system since their biology is much more similar to our own than viruses and bacteria. We are also interested in understanding the long-term implications of Toxoplasma infection which includes damage to the fetus during pregnancy, an increasing prevalence of ocular disease in Central and South America, and, in immune suppressed individuals damage to the brain. To complement these studies, Dr. Ewald is developing a micro proteomics technology to study inflammation in primary human cells and tissue biopsies.