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Education & Training

CMIB Training Grant


Interdisciplinary Program in Microbe-Host Biology

Today's reality includes emergence and spread of multi-drug resistant organisms and new infectious agents, a growing concern for worldwide pandemics, the use of infectious agents in offensive bio-warfare, and an enlarging list of opportunistic infections. These challenges to human health necessitate comprehensive interdisciplinary training programs for the next generation of scientists in studies of the microbe-host interface.

This program is a unique multidisciplinary training experience focused on the microbe-host interface and will prepare students for a career in the breadth of the biomedical workforce. The training program enriches existing training programs in several ways by emphasizing 1) a highly interactive scientific community, 2) a multidisciplinary approach to science, 3) exposure of trainees to the biomedical research community of a large academic health sciences center, 4) integration of the clinical and basic sciences, 5) exposure to experienced and talented scientist educators and mentors, and 6) several added advantages to Fellows, including a local and international externship program.

The goals of this training program are several-fold:

  1. Promote and coordinate interdisciplinary research in the fields of infectious diseases and microbial pathogenesis on the OSU campus.
  2. Develop training opportunities (both bench and classroom) for individuals with an interest in the fields of infectious diseases and microbial pathogenesis.
  3. Discover new diagnostic tools, therapies, and vaccines for infectious diseases, including diseases caused by microbes targeted as agents of bioterrorism.
  4. To make available state of the art laboratory-based training in studies of microbe-host interactions for two pre-doctoral and one post-doctoral trainee while increasing their familiarity with the clinical aspects of infectious diseases.
  5. To optimize interactions among investigators in studies of microbe-host interactions at OSU to create the ideal environment for research and education of trainees.

Current trainees:

Predoctoral trainees, 2017
Julia Scordo, Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program (BSGP), laboratory of Dr. Jordi Torrelles.  The Torrelles laboratory is interested in studying the lung microenvironment and how it can impact Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infection in the host. Specifically the lab focuses on studying how factors present in the lung mucosa, or alveolar lining fluid (ALF), can impact the M.tb-host interaction with focus on human cell populations as well as work in vivo. The Torrelles lab has shown that human ALF alters M.tb-host phagocyte (both human macrophage and neutrophil) association and enhances phagocyte control of M.tb growth while dampening the inflammatory response. Ms. Scordo's work focuses on the alveolar epithelium and studies the interaction between alveolar epithelial cells (ATs) and M.tb to determine how human ALF can alter this host cell-M.tb interaction during infection. ATs are non-professional phagocytic cells that have important regulatory roles as well as critical roles during respiratory infections, including M.tb infection. The lab's research has shown that factors present in ALF from healthy humans can significantly alter the initial association and intracellular growth of M.tb in a heterogeneous manner that suggests the composition of the lung mucosa may drive outcome of M.tb infection in ATs. The Torrelles lab aims to study how these changes may potentiate the role of ATs as reservoirs for M.tb growth during infection and impact the cellular cross talk between ATs and other lung cells. These studies are important to better understand M.tb infection outcome in the human host and advance knowledge of host factors and pathways that can yield therapeutic potential. After graduation, Ms. Scordo hopes to pursue an independent research career in either academia or government, performing research in the fields of immunology and infectious disease and continuing to study the host-pathogen interaction to improve human health.

Ann Gregory, Department of Microbiology Graduate Program, laboratory of Dr. Matt Sullivan.  The Sullivan laboratory uses novel sequencing and experimental approaches to understand the diversity, abundance and functions of bacterial viruses (phages) across ecosystems, and how such knowledge can help develop phage-based applications. Ms. Gregory’s work focuses on exploring the role of viruses in the lung ecosystem, specifically studying their role in lung transplantation success and failure. Lung transplantation success rates significantly lag behind those of other organs. Recent work has revealed the native bacteria and viruses (lung microbiome) may also play a role in transplantation outcomes.  In the lung, the identity of these viruses and whether they are helpful or harmful is unknown. Ms. Gregory's goal is to develop quantitative approaches to better survey the virome in healthy and transplanted lungs over time to better predict lung transplantation outcomes.

Post-doctoral trainees, 2016-2017
Eusondia Arnett, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, laboratory of Dr. Larry Schlesinger. The Schlesinger laboratory studies the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis and its interactions with macrophages. Studies from the lab demonstrate that M. tuberculosis infection enhances expression and activity of the transcription factor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-gamma in human macrophages, which contributes to M. tuberculosis growth. The major goal of Dr. Arnett's project is to identify novel PPAR-gamma effectors that condition macrophages to be more susceptible to M. tuberculosis infection. Recent NanoString analysis revealed several genes that are differentially-regulated in response to PPAR-gamma silencing during M. tuberculosis infection, including genes involved in apoptosis. Apoptosis is an important defense mechanism that prevents the growth of intracellular microbes, including M. tuberculosis, but is limited by virulent M. tuberculosis. The lab is currently studying the role of PPAR-gamma in regulation of apoptosis during M. tuberculosis infection. Further understanding of PPAR-gamma effectors is expected to lead to the identification of novel host-directed therapies for M. tuberculosis, and other infectious agents.

Cristina Howard, Department of Microbiology, laboratory of Dr. Matt Sullivan. The Sullivan laboratory uses novel sequencing and experimental approaches to understand the diversity, abundance and functions of bacterial viruses (phages) across ecosystems, and how such knowledge can help develop phage-based applications. Dr. Howard's research in particular focuses on characterizing the mechanisms driving phage-bacterial interactions in nature to advance phage therapy - i.e., use phages and phage cocktails for eradicating bacterial pathogens that cause infectious diseases.  For this she uses, in collaboration with technology experts, a combination of 'omics (e.g. transcriptomics,m proteomics, metabolomics), ribosomal profiling, and single-cell resolution (e.g. phageFISH) approaches.  These approaches provide insight into how phages interact with bacterial pathogens and how bacteria develop resistance against phages, to ultimately develop phage therapy.
 

Former trainees:

Predoctoral trainees
2014-2015 & 2015-2016, Cynthia Canan, Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program (BSGP), laboratory of Dr. Joanne Turner.
2014-2015 & 2015-2016, Andrew Garfoot, Department of Microbiology, laboratory of Dr. Chad Rappleye.

Post-doctoral trainees
2015-2016, Joanna Marshall, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, laboratory of Dr. Stephanie Seveau.
2015-2016, Katherine Miller, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, laboratory of Dr. Brian Ahmer.
2014-2015, Sarika Pathak-Sharma, Department of Microbiology, laboratory of Dr. Stephanie Seveau.
2014-2015, Matthew Swearingen, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, laboratory of Dr. Paul Stoodley.

 

Training Program Faculty:

Brian Ahmer, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, College of Medicine
Amal Amer,  Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, College of Medicine
Michael Bailey, Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine
Lauren Bakaletz, Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine
John Christman, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine
John Gunn, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, College of Medicine
Mike Ibba, Department of Microbiology, College of Arts & Sciences
Sheryl Justice, Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine
Jesse Kwiek, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, College of Medicine
Jianrong Li, Department of Veterinary Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine
Kevin Mason, Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine
Stefan Niewiesk, Department of Veterinary Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine
Mark Peeples, Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine
Gireesh Rajashekara, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine
Octavio Ramilo, Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine
Chad Rappleye, Department of Microbiology, College of Arts & Sciences
Yasuko Rikihisa, Department of Veterinary Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine
Natividad Ruiz, Department of Microbiology, College of Arts & Sciences
Linda Saif, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine
Abhay Satoskar, Department of Pathology, College of Medicine
Larry Schlesinger, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, College of Medicine
Stephanie Seveau, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, College of Medicine
Paul Stoodley, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, College of Medicine
Matthew Sullivan, Department of Microbiology, College of Arts & Sciences
Jordi Torrelles, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, College of Medicine
Joanne Turner, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, College of Medicine
Christopher Walker, Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine
Dan Wozniak, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, College of Medicine
Li Wu, Department of Veterinary Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine