Current Research and Scholarly Interests
The primary focus of our research is to understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms of intracellular bacterial pathogenesis.
One major focus is to understand how the host recognizes and responds to intracellular bacterial pathogens. We have shown that cytosolic recognition of some bacteria leads to Type I Interferon signaling and Inflammasome activation. We take both a genetic and biochemical approach to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in host recognition pathways leading to inflammation and pathogen evasion mechanisms.
Another major focus involves the study of Salmonella interactions with the host. Salmonella is acquired by ingesting contaminated food or water and thus interacts with the microbes in our gut. We study how the interactions between Salmonella, the gut microbiota and the immune system influence chronic infection and transmission to new hosts. Since some strains of Salmonella, e.g., Salmonella typhi cause systemic diseases such as typhoid fever. we also explore interactions between Salmonella and immune cells, such as macrophages. We have shown that persisting Salmonella exploit the metabolic immune state of alternatively activated macrophages in order to cause chronic infections.