Interests: Reduced exposure to infectious diseases. Improved tuberculosis case finding and transmission control. Improved detection of pathogens in food and water. Improved understanding of infectious disease exposure and epidemiology.
• Tuberculosis biomarkers and diagnosis. In collaboration with research and clinical partners in Washington, California, Kenya, and South Africa, we are working to identify biomarkers of active TB and to develop improved point-of-care tools for detecting TB biomarkers in patient samples.
• Molecular detection of pathogens in environmental and clinical samples. As a method for detecting microorganisms in samples, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is fast, sensitive, and specific. However, it is unable to distinguish viable pathogen cells from dead cells and free nucleic acid fragments. We have shown that PCR tests for ribosomal RNA precursors (pre-rRNA) can overcome this problem. In collaboration with a Seattle-based commercial licensee, AttoDx, Inc, we are developing pre-rRNA tests for pathogen detection in environmental as well as clinical samples.
• Improved affinity reagents (molecular probes) for infectious disease diagnosis. High-throughput methods are being developed to generate novel antibody-like "probes" for pathogen molecules in patient and environmental samples. In an NIH-funded project entitled "Accelerated Molecular Probe Pipeline," these methods are being used to identify new biomarkers of intestinal amoeba infections. The project is an international collaboration with partners in Washington, Virginia, Australia, and Bangladesh.
• Understanding human exposure to tuberculosis and related diseases. Transmission and exposure are among the most poorly understood aspects of bacterial disease. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a globally important microbial pathogen, and related environmental mycobacteria are useful models for understanding how infectious diseases emerge and spread. Molecular and epidemiological methods are being used to characterize the host, pathogen, and environmental factors involved in the acquisition of mycobacterial infections.