Academics & Research

Immunology, Inflammation, & Infectious Disease (3i) Initiative

Host-Microbe Interactions Pillar

Fred Adler, PhD

Title:  Professor - Mathematics

Mathematical modeling in virology, epidemiology and immunology, with a focus on linking across different scales of spatial and temporal organization.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: mathematical epidemiology, mathematical immunology, virology, theoretical biology

Email:  adler@math.utah.edu

Krow Ampofo, MBCHB

Title:  Professor - Pediatrics

My research focuses on the epidemiology and diagnosis of respiratory infections, and the use of metagenomic sequencing as a diagnostic and evaluation tool.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: respiratory viral infection, Influenza, epidemiology, diagnostics, antivirals

Email:  Krow.Ampofo@hsc.utah.edu

Markus Babst, PhD

Title:  Professor - Biology

My lab is interested in the regulation of nutrient transporters. Particularly, we focus on the post-translational regulation of transporters and study how this regulation is linked to the cell's metabolism.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: protein trafficking, metabolism, cell biology

Email:  m.babst@utah.edu

Lou Barrows, PhD

Title:  Professor - Pharmacology and Toxicology

My laboratory is dedicated to the discovery of new anti-cancer and anti-infective agents. Much of what we do can be considered natural products drug discovery. We identify new drug leads based on their novel chemical structure or mechanism of action. Extracts of macro- and microorganisms from coral reefs and tropical rain forests provide the new molecules we isolate and evaluate. Determination of the molecular actions of new molecules and determination of the precise cellular consequences of their activity is often the basis of student doctoral projects. We take bioactive organisms and molecules all the way from the source to the sequencing gel, and then into animal models of human disease.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: drug discovery, natural products, antimicrobial, antineoplastic

Email:  lbarrows@deans.pharm.utah.edu

Brenda Bass, PhD

Title:  Distinguished Professor - Biochemistry

The Bass laboratory is focused on understanding the biological functions of long double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and dsRNA binding proteins. Viruses were once thought to be the sole source of long dsRNA, but the Bass laboratory has identified numerous long dsRNAs that naturally exist in animals, primarily focusing on C. elegans and mammals. Proteins that recognize dsRNA are not sequence-specific, and the Bass laboratory is interested in how these proteins distinguish endogenous and viral dsRNA.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: dsRNA, Dicer, ADAR, antiviral

Email:  bbass@biochem.utah.edu

Anne Blaschke, MD, PhD

Title:  Professor - Pediatrics

Work in our laboratory is focused on better understanding the causes of invasive bacterial infections in children. We use new diagnostic technologies to better understand the pathogen-based epidemiology of infections such as pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. In addition, we are using whole genome sequencing and comparative genomics to better understand the virulence of invasive pathogens such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus and Haemophilus influenzae.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: molecular diagnostics, pediatrics, pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus influenzae

Email:  Anne.Blaschke@hsc.utah.edu

Bill Brazelton, PhD

Title:  Assistant Professor - Biology

A major research focus of the Brazelton lab is the study of bacteria and archaea who inhabit rock-hosted environments influenced by a process known as serpentinization. These environments host a set of extreme environmental conditions characterized by high concentrations of hydrogen gas, methane, and other simple organic compounds that are attractive food and energy sources for microbes. Serpentinization has been occurring on Earth ever since it became cool enough to have liquid water, and it is also expected to occur on other planets, such as Mars. Therefore, the lessons we learn by studying the weird archaea and bacteria associated with serpentinization are likely to help us understand the origin, distribution, and evolution of life in the solar system.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: bacteria, archaea, environmental microbiology

Email:  william.brazelton@utah.edu

Jessica Brown, PhD

Title:  Assistant Professor - Pathology

Our lab studies the pathogenesis of the fungus Cryptococcus neoformans and its interplay with the immune system.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: fungi, Cryptococcus, antimicrobials

Email:  jessica.brown@path.utah.edu

Sarah Bush, PhD

Title:  Associate Professor - Biology

My research focuses on the evolutionary consequences of interspecific interactions and the evolution of biodiversity. Specifically, I address these themes by investigating the co-evolutionary ecology of hosts and their parasites, primarily birds and ectoparasitic feather lice. My research involves experimental evolution, comparative research, and faunal surveys.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: Co-evolution, Ecology, Host-parasite interactions, biodiversity, biogeography, and systematics 

Email:  bush@biology.utah.edu

Demián Cazalla, PhD

Title:  Associate Professor - Biochemistry

Our laboratory uses biochemistry and molecular biology to dissect the molecular functions of non-coding RNAs and their role in viral infections. 

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: herpesvirus, miRNA, non-coding RNA, gene expression

Email:  dcazalla@biochem.utah.edu

Colin Dale, PhD

Title:  Associate Professor - Biology

My research focuses on symbiotic relationships involving bacteria and animals, particularly insects. Many insects are known to harbor mutualistic bacterial symbionts that play important roles in host nutrition and defense. My research explores the nature of these symbiotic interactions using an integrative approach that employs genomic, transcriptomic, molecular genetic and molecular evolutionary analyses. We explore a range of topics including: (i) the causes and consequences of genome degeneration in bacterial symbionts, (ii) the molecular basis of interactions between insects and symbiotic bacteria, and (iii) the use of symbionts to express foreign gene in insects of medical and agricultural importance.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: microbiology and molecular evolution; insects and endosymbionts

Email:  colin.dale@utah.edu

Darrell Davis, PhD

Title:  Professor - Medicinal Chemistry

The discovery, validation, and development of small molecule inhibitors of viral translation. Specific viruses of interest include Zika, Dengue, Powassan, and HCV. We are particularly interested in how potential therapeutic molecules might affect mechanisms that differentiate viral from host translation.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: viral inhibition, translation, RNA, flavivirus, Zika, Dengue, Powassan, HCV

Email:  darrell.davis@utah.edu

Denise Dearing, PhD

Title:  Distinguished Professor - Biology

My research focuses on ecological factors and physiological constraints that influence foraging behavior and the evolution of diet breadth in mammalian herbivores.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: evolution, microbiome, plants, ecology

Email:  dearing@bioscience.utah.edu

Nels Elde, PhD

Title:  Associate Professor - Human Genetics

My research program investigates host-microbe interfaces and the evolutionary impact of these interactions on genomic and cellular complexity. Protein surfaces at these interfaces often evolve in a manner resembling molecular arms races, providing a conspicuous means to investigate mechanisms underlying the process of evolution. 

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: virus, pathogen-driven evolution, mimicry, experimental evolution

Email:  nelde@genetics.utah.edu

Elena Enioutina, MD, PhD

Title:  Research Assistant Professor - Pediatrics

Dr. Enioutina has long-standing interest in the prophylaxis of infectious diseases goes back to medical school years. Immune senescence and modulation of immune responses in aged animals by cholesterol lowering drugs was the topic of her Ph.D. work. Her current research involves the understanding of the relationship between the activity of cord blood myeloid derived suppressor cells and neonatal susceptibility to infections, and discovering therapeutic options aimed to improve immune responsiveness of newborns.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: immunopharmacology, Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells (MDSCs), vaccination, chlamydia infections

Email:  elena.enioutina@hsc.utah.edu

Keke Fairfax, PhD

Title:  Assistant Professor - Pathology

IL-4 and immuno-modulation are hallmarks of parasitic infections, my laboratory broadly focuses on using the helminth parasite Schistosoma mansoni as a tool to understand both, the consequences of IL-4 induced immuno-modulation, and the complex interplay between B, T, and stromal cells necessary to develop an optimal T and B cell memory response. Under this umbrella we currently have three main projects: 1) Understanding the immunological implications of maternal schistosomiasis; 2) Dissecting the role of IL-4 in shaping the cellular environment of peripheral lymph nodes during homeostasis and antigenic challenge; 3) Delineating the mechanistic role of hepatic macrophages in helminth-induced protection from metabolic diseases.

3i Bridge/Pillar:  Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: Schistosomiasis, B cells, macrophages, maternal infection, pathogenesis, helminths

Email:  keke.fairfax@path.utah.edu

Michael L. Free, PhD

Title:  Professor - Metallurgical Engineering

Our research group focuses on improving metal extraction and purification, corrosion mitigation and recycling, and materials synthesis and evaluation for new technologies such as chemical sensors, all of which is designed to make our world better and our way of life more sustainable.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: metals, chemical processing, electrochemistry, sensors, corrosion

Email:  michael.free@utah.edu

Hamid Ghandehari, PhD

Title:  Professor - Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Research in our lab involves design and development of polymeric and inorganic materials for controlled drug and gene delivery. The platforms in our lab can easily be utilized for localized delivery of anti-infective agents to maximize efficacy and reduce side effects.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: drug delivery, nanotechnology

Email:  hamid.ghandehari@pharm.utah.edu

David Grainger, PhD

Title:  Distinguished Professor - Biomedical Engineering

Our work seeks to improve the performance of implants in the body using local drug release, and enhance implant-tissue interfaces by reducing inflammation and infection. We also develop 3-D in vitro cell-based models to analyze drug toxicity, and in vivo assessments of nanoparticle biodistributions. 

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: medical device, drug delivery, inflammatory response, infection, local therapy

Email:  David.Grainger@hsc.utah.edu

Scott Hale, PhD

Title:  Assistant Professor - Pathology

My laboratory studies T cells and their role in the generation of immunological memory in response to infection and immunization. We are particularly interested in understanding the genetic and epigenetic programs that regulate the differentiation and maintenance of memory helper T cell subsets. We are currently investigating whether targeting epigenetic programing of helper T cell differentiation can enhance T cell help to B cells to generate improved protective antibody responses against viral pathogens.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: helper T cells, immunological memory, viral immunology, DNA methylation, epigenetics

Email:  scott.hale@path.utah.edu

Ming Hammond, PhD

Title:  Associate Professor - Chemistry

The Hammond lab has a dual focus on engineering nucleic acids as programmable tools for molecular imaging and gene control, and on understanding the chemistry and biology of nucleotide-based signaling molecules in bacteria and mammalian cells.

We are one of the first labs to develop fluorescent biosensors made of RNA for live cell imaging of enzyme activity. These sensors are designed by combining a riboswitch domain, which is an RNA that changes conformation upon binding a small molecule ligand, and a fluorophore-binding domain. Ligand selectivity is dictated by the riboswitch domain and can even be reprogrammed with single nucleotide changes.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: biosensors, enzymes, cell imaging, RNA, riboswitch domain

Email:  ming.hammond@utah.edu

Kimberly Hanson, MD

Title:  Associate Professor - Internal Medicine (Infectious Disease)

My research is focused on the development and validation of novel diagnostic tests for infectious diseases. 

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: diagnostics, infectious disease

Email:  kim.hanson@hsc.utah.edu

Adam Hersh, MD, PhD

Title:  Associate Professor - Pediatrics

Clinical epidemiology, health services research focusing on improving the quality and safety of antimicrobial prescribing

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: 

Email:  Adam.Hersh@hsc.utah.edu

Chris Hill, D. Phil

Title:  Distinguished Professor - Biochemistry

We take structural and biochemical approaches to understanding the mechanisms of biological processes. We study multiple areas of biology, including HIV-host interactions. These include cellular pathways that are either coopted to support viral replication or function in innate immunity. 

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: HIV, virus-host interactions, protein structure, Cryo-EM, X-ray crystallography

Email:  chris@biochem.utah.edu

Sheri Holmen, PhD

Title:  Professor - Surgery

Dr. Holmen’s Lab aims to define critical targets in cancer cells that can become the focus for therapeutic intervention. Current efforts utilize a genetic approach to address this question in tumors that are generally refractory to conventional therapies, including metastatic melanoma and glioblastoma. Identified targets are being further validated using pharmacological inhibitors of clinical importance such that laboratory findings can be quickly translated to the clinic.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: glioma, melanoma, mouse models of cancer, virology, oncogenes, genes, tumor suppressor

Email:  Sheri.Holmen@hci.utah.edu

Janet Iwasa, PhD

Title:  Assistant Professor - Biochemistry

My group creates information-rich and visually compelling animations that capture current hypotheses on diverse molecular and cellular processes. These visualizations have broad applications in scientific research, communication, education and outreach. We are also interested in creating new tools and workflows that will enable researchers to more readily create dynamic visualizations of the processes they study. 

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: visualization, animation, outreach

Email:  jiwasa@biochem.utah.edu

Richard Kanner, MD

Title:  Professor - Internal Medicine (Pulmonary)

COPD, Health Effects of Air Pollution

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: COPD, PM2.5

Email:  richard.kanner@hsc.utah.edu

Talia Karasov, PhD

Talia Karasov, PhD

Title:  Biology

Our research focuses on the genetics of interactions between plants and their microbes. Using a combination of molecular and computational methods, we study the mechanisms by which microbes become pathogenic on plants and how microbial pathogens evolve to colonise host species with distinct immune systems

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: genomics, evolution, plant-microbe interactions, microbiome, immunity

Email:  tkarasov@tuebingen.mpg.de

Michael Kay, MD, PhD

Title:  Professor - Biochemistry

Our protein design and peptide chemistry lab develops mirror-image D-peptide inhibitors against a broad range of targets. We are particularly focused on inhibiting viral entry (in HIV and Ebola) and bacterial toxins (e.g., Shiga). 

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: phage display, protein design, D-peptides, HIV, drug discovery, Shiga toxins

Email:  kay@biochem.utah.edu

John Kriesel, MD

Title:  Research Associate Professor - Internal Medicine (Infectious Disease)

Dr. Kriesel's primary interests here are in translational and clinical research. He discovered a major genetic contributor to human cold sores. His research projects involve strategies for the treatment of herpes simplex virus infections, and microbiologic triggers of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis and sarcoidosis.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: next generation sequencing, RNA-seq, Multiple Sclerosis, Sarcoidosis

Email:  john.kriesel@hsc.utah.edu

Tracey Lamb, PhD

Title:  Associate Professor - Pathology

We work on malaria, a disease caused by infection Plasmodium parasites that invade the body’s red blood cells and can cause a harmful systemic infection.

We are particularly interested in factors affecting the generation of a robust immune response to kill and remove the infection. We also work on determining the molecular mechanisms mediating vascular activation during malaria. Vascular activation is a key event in organ-specific pathologies associated with Plasmodium-infected red blood cells sequestering on the endothelial cells lining the vasculature of the body.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: malaria, Plasmodium, blood

Email:  tracey.lamb@path.utah.edu

Molly Leecaster, PhD

Title:  Research Associate Professor - Internal Medicine (Epidemiology)

My research focuses on understanding the associations between behavior and infectious disease dynamics. We use wireless sensor networks and electronic health records to collect data on person-to-person and person-to-environment contacts that have the potential to mediate transmission. We use dynamic models and simulations to estimate transmission parameters and test potential interventions to control spread of infection. My statistical interests include spatial models, sample design, and epidemiology. 

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: social and dynamic network analysis, Healthcare-associated infection, biostatistics

Email:  Molly.Leecaster@utah.edu

Ellen Leffler, PhD

Title:  Visiting Assistant Professor - Human Genetics

Our research focuses on evolutionary adaptation to infectious disease, especially malaria, in humans and other primates. We use bioinformatic and population genomic approaches to study the origin, evolution, and consequences of genetic variation that influences infectious disease susceptibility.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: malaria, evolution, genomics, primates

Email:  leffler@genetics.utah.edu

Daniel Leung, MD

Title:  Assistant Professor - Internal Medicine (Infectious Disease)

We study clinical, epidemiological, and immunological responses to intestinal infections, focusing on cholera and other pathogens of importance in resource-limited settings. We have a secondary focus on mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cell biology.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: Cholera, diarrhea, MAIT cells

Email:  Daniel.Leung@utah.edu

Catherine Loc Carillo, PhD

Title:  Research Assistant Professor - Internal Medicine (Epidemiology)

Our research is focused in developing translational studies to prevention and treatment polymicrobial infections using experimentally infected animal models. My goal is to conduct well-controlled, impartial research to investigate the possibilities of applying bacteriophages (phages) as biocontrol agents to clinically problematic infections, with particular emphasis on antibiotics resistant bacteria.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: antimicrobial resistance, bacteriophages, polymicrobial infections

Email:  C.Loc.Carrillo@hsc.utah.edu

Ryan Looper, PhD

Title:  Professor - Chemistry

Our lab uses chemical synthesis to probe the underlying mechanism of action of natural products. Through these efforts we develop leads for the treatment of various human diseases. A particular focus is the development of new antibiotic agents with novel mechanisms of action targeting multi-drug resistant Gram-(+) and Gram-(-) pathogens.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: antibiotics, translation, ribosome, natural products, medicinal chemistry

Email:  r.looper@utah.edu

Elizabeth Middleton, MD

Title:  Instructor - Internal Medicine (Pulmonary)

I work within the Weyrich, Zimmerman, Rondina lab. We are primarily a platelet and megakaryocyte lab with a focus on transcriptional and translational control. My work focuses on alterations in RNA and protein expression in both human and mouse models of sepsis and other inflammatory conditions.  

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: platelet, megakaryocyte, sepsis, CLP, translation, transcription

Email:  elizabeth.middleton@hsc.utah.edu

Matt Mulvey, PhD

Title:  Professor - Pathology

The Mulvey lab is working to delineate both bacterial and host factors that control the ability of pathogens to colonize and persist within diverse host environments, with a major goal being the development of improved anti-bacterial therapeutics. This research utilizes genetics, microscopy, biochemistry, global gene expression analysis, and molecular biology techniques coupled with cell culture, mouse, and zebrafish infection model systems

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: bacterial pathogenesis, sepsis, urinary tract infections, gut colonization, virulence regulation, antibiotics

Email:  mulvey@path.utah.edu

Richard Nelson, PhD

Title:  Research Associate Professor - Internal Medicine (Epidemiology)

My research focuses on identifying the optimal use of scarce healthcare resources. In the realm of infectious diseases, I use the tools of health economics to inform decision making related to antibiotic prescribing and strategies to prevent transmission of multidrug-resistant organisms in the hospital.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: healthcare-associated infections, multidrug-resistant organisms, health economics, cost-effectiveness analysis

Email:  Richard.Nelson@utah.edu

Shawn Owen, PhD

Title:  Assistant Professor - Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry

My lab utilizes protein engineering and bioconjugation techniques in developing therapeutic and diagnostic platforms to enable precision medicine. Our current research focus is on 1) controlling the systemic and cellular pharmacokinetics (PK) of antibody-based therapeutics by creating self-amplifying antibody-drug conjugates, 2) evaluating the pharmaceutic stability of antibody-based therapeutics, and 3) engineering binary/ternary complementation-based diagnostic systems that utilize luminescent reporters for detection of important biomarkers.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: antibodies, antibody-drug conjugates, therapeutics, diagnostics

Email:  shawn.owen@hsc.utah.edu

Andrew Pavia, MD

Title:  Professor - Pediatrics

Our group is interested in the epidemiology of diarrheal disease and predictive models, the epidemiology and diagnosis of respiratory infections, and the use of metagenomic sequencing as a diagnostic tool. We also have interest in understanding and improving the use of antibiotics.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: influenza, diarrheal disease, epidemiology, diagnostics, antivirals

Email:  Andy.Pavia@hsc.utah.edu

Vicente Planelles, PhD

Title:  Professor - Pathology

The research in my lab seeks to understand various aspects of the pathogenesis by human immunodeficiency viruses. Specifically, we study (1) how HIV-1 establishes and maintains latency; how HIV-1 and related viruses evade immune responses via expression of the so called “viral accessory proteins”; and how HIV-1 modulates the host cell cycle.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: HIV, lentiviruses, latency, accessory genes, SIV, interferon, SAMHD1, vpr, vpx, vpu

Email:  vicente.planelles@path.utah.edu

Wayne Potts, PhD

Title:  Professor - Biology

The lab has two different major projects: 1) We use experimental evolution of viruses to evaluate the role of host and pathogen genetic diversity on virulence evolution. 2) We use seminatural populations of mice to investigate the health consequences of any treatment, which to date have included a) resistance to infectious disease mediated by social status, b) dietary sugars, c) inbreeding, d) hox gene mutations, and e) pharmaceuticals; in every case our approach has proven more sensitive and powerful than conventional approaches.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: immunogenetics, host-parasite coevolution, histocompatibility genes, virulence evolution, experimental evolution, virology

Email:  wp2@utah.edu

Aaron Puri, PhD

Title:  Assistant Professor - Chemistry

We are interested in how bacteria use small molecules to interact with each other and their environment. These molecules, known as natural products or secondary/specialized metabolites, form the basis of many compounds essential to medicine and agriculture. We use underexplored bacterial communities as new sources of natural products, and to provide biological context in order to activate the production and determine the biological function of these compounds.

Core research topics:

Bacterial interactions mediated by natural products (chemical ecology)
Isolation, structural elucidation, and biosynthesis of novel natural products
Bacterial genetics and regulation of biosynthetic gene clusters

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: bacterial pathogens, small molecules, natural products

Email:  a.puri@utah.edu

June Round, PhD

Title:  Associate Professor - Pathology

We work on understanding how commensal bacteria shape host immune system development and responses.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: microbiome, mucosal immunology, IBD

Email:  june.round@path.utah.edu

Michael Rubin, MD, PhD

Title:  Professor - Internal Medicine (Epidemiology)

I am primarily interested in health services research and implementation science encompassing the domains of medical informatics, clinical decision support, and computer simulation modeling, particularly as these relate to topics in infectious diseases and infection prevention. Relevant recent and ongoing projects include longitudinal epidemiologic analyses of multidrug-resistant organism infection rates, hospital-based interventions to reduce device-associated infections and antimicrobial prescribing, and the development of state-of-the-art computer simulation models to test novel healthcare-associated infection intervention strategies and to analyze their clinical and economic impacts.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: biomedical informatics, computer simulation, infectious diseases, infection prevention, healthcare-associated infections, antimicrobial stewardship

Email:  michael.rubin@hsc.utah.edu

Phone:  https://healthcare.utah.edu/fad/mddetail.php?physicianID=u0100398

Saveez Saffarian, PhD

Title:  Associate Professor - Physics and Astronomy

We are an experimental Virology and Biophysics lab. Our lab has identified a relationship between HIV budding and protease activation and we are focused on the molecular mechanisms which ensure the release of fully infectious HIV virions. Our lab has also identified a mechanism for redistribution of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus polymerases along with its genome template. VSV is a prototype negative single-stranded RNA virus and shares many of its genetic mechanisms with more potent human pathogens including Ebola and Measles. While our lab is not directly focused on developing antivirals, we hope that our efforts will shed light on underlying mechanisms used by lentiviruses and negative-strand RNA viruses.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: viruses, imaging, HIV, microscopy

Email:  saffarian@physics.utah.edu

Matthew Samore, MD

Title:  Professor - Internal Medicine (Epidemiology)

My research advances the understanding of how antibiotic use has spread resistant pathogens; uncovers mechanisms of disease spread by healthcare-associated pathogens such as Clostridium difficile; and develops evidence about interventions to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use and control healthcare-associated infection. I also investigate the use of electronic health record data to improve measurement of prescribing practices and patient outcomes. 

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: multidrug-resistant organisms, healthcare-associated infection, electronic health record, health information technology, prescribing practices, patient outcomes

Email:  Matthew.Samore@hsc.utah.edu

Prashant Sarswat, PhD

Title:  Research Associate Professor - Metallurgical Engineering

Prashant K Sarswat, Ph.D., is a Research Assistant Professor in the Metallurgical Engineering Department at the University of Utah. His broad interests in III domain includes the development of the low-cost sensors for rapid detection of biomarkers specific to diseases such as diabetes, tuberculosis, lung cancer, childhood hypo-glycemia-growth hormone deficiency, toxic inhalation, and various other diseases.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: biosensors and devices, diabetes, electrochemistry, quantum dots, spectroscopy

Email:  saraswatp@gmail.com

Robert Schlaberg, MD

Title:  Assistant Professor - Pathology

My research is focused on developing unbiased pathogen detection approaches using shotgun metagenomics. We apply shotgun metagenomics for comprehensive pathogen detection, evaluating host-pathogen and pathogen-microbiota interactions, and developing host gene expression-based diagnostic strategies.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: metagenomics, syndromic testing, host response, respiratory infections

Email:  robert.schlaberg@path.utah.edu

Eric Schmidt, PhD

Title:  Professor - Medicinal Chemistry

We are experts in the chemistry of metabolism, including identifying known and previously unknown compounds from microbes and host animals. Our research includes the chemistry of secondary metabolites, NMR and mass spectrometry, metagenome sequencing and analysis, and biosynthesis (synthetic biology of natural products).

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: natural products, antimicrobials, spectrmetry

Email:  ews1@utah.edu

Michael Shapiro, PhD

Title:  Professor - Biology

Evolutionary genetics and developmental biology of natural and domesticated populations of vertebrates. We study how variation at the genomic level translates to developmental and phenotypic diversity in morphology and behavior.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: evolution, genetics, genomics, development, pigeon

Email:  shapiro@biology.utah.edu

Paul Sigala, PhD

Title:  Assistant Professor - Biochemistry

We use diverse biochemical and cellular tools to understand the metabolic adaptations that enable Plasmodium malaria parasites to survive and proliferate within human red blood cells. Our goals are to broaden fundamental knowledge of fascinating and divergent parasite biology and to identify new therapeutic opportunities to target this dangerous pathogen. 

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: malaria, metabolism, organelle biology, heme, parasites

Email:  p.sigala@biochem.utah.edu

Adam Spivak, MD

Title:  Assistant Professor - Internal Medicine (Infectious Disease)

My research focuses on HIV latency and persistence despite antiretroviral therapy. I am working to develop strategies to eradicate this viral reservoir. I am also working on novel clinical strategies to prevent the spread of HIV infection in our community. 

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: HIV, HIV latency, HIV persistence, pre-exposure prophylaxis 

Email:  adam.spivak@hsc.utah.edu

Zac Stephens, PhD

Title:  Research Assistant Professor - Pathology

My research seeks to understand the ecological and immunological mechanisms involved in the assembly and maintenance of host-associated microbial communities. I am also interested in improvements to high-throughput sequencing and analysis techniques employed to increase our understanding of the many unknown microbial functions.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: microbiome, mucosal immunology, microbial ecology, host-microbe, metagenomics

Email:  zac.stephens@path.utah.edu

Vanessa Stevens, PhD

Title:  Research Assistant Professor - Internal Medicine (Epidemiology)

My work focuses on the prevention and treatment of antimicrobial-resistant infections in the healthcare environment and promoting judicious use of antibiotics.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: Clostridioides (Clostridium) difficile infection, antimicrobial stewardship, comparative effectiveness research

Email:  vanessa.stevens@hsc.utah.edu

David Stillman, PhD

Title:  Professor - Pathology

The central theme of our research is the regulation of gene expression, with the goal of understanding transcriptional regulation in eukaryotes at the molecular level.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: gene regulation, yeast, transcription

Email:  david.stillman@path.utah.edu

Wes Sundquist, PhD

Title:  Distinguished Professor - Biochemistry

We study the cellular, molecular and structural biology of retroviruses, particularly HIV, and the roles of the ESCRT pathway in cell division and the abscission checkpoint. Major projects in our lab include studies of: 1) HIV budding, 2) designed nanoparticles, 3) ESCRT pathway functions in cell division and the abscission checkpoint, and 4) HIV capsid structure, function and restriction, particularly by the TRIM5α innate immune system. 

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: HIV, innate immunity, ESCRT, TRIM5alpha, nanoparticles, protein design

Email:  wes@biochem.utah.edu

Sankar Swaminathan, MD

Title:  Professor - Internal Medicine (Infectious Disease)

We work on gene regulation by oncogenic herpesviruses EBV and KSHV. We study how the viruses control cellular transcription and post-transcriptional processing. We also study host factors that operate epigenetically or through the innate immune response to restrict viral replication.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: Epstein Barr Virus, KSHV, oncogenesis, innate immune response, epigenetic, post-transcriptional gene regulation

Email:  sankar.swaminathan@hsc.utah.edu

Mike Varner, MD

Title:  Professor - Obstetrics/Gynecology

I have been facilitating clinical trials in women’s health – mainly obstetrics – for at the past 30 years. 

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: clinical trials, pregnancy, obstetrics and gynecology, women’s long-term health, fetal origins of disease

Email:  michael.varner@hsc.utah.edu

Janis Weis, PhD

Title:  Professor - Pathology

My laboratory studies the inflammatory pathways involved in the development of Lyme arthritis, a condition arising from infection with the tic- borne pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi. Using a genetic approach we have identified numerous pathways that regulate the severity of arthritis in inbred mice, and have developed a model for chronic Lyme disease. Using this model we are testing therapeutic targets for enhanced resolution of arthritis in combination with standard antibiotic regimens.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: Lyme arthritis, Borrelia burgdorferi, genetics, inflammatory pathways

Email:  janis.weis@path.utah.edu

Melodie Weller, PhD

Title:  Assistant Professor - Dentistry

The Weller Lab studies viral profiles associated with the development and progression of Sjogren’s Syndrome and Sjogren’s Syndrome-associated Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Our primary aims are to identify how viruses are able to contribute to autoimmunity and, most importantly, how patients are being exposed to these pathogens. We are also working on saliva-based diagnostics to detect exposure to pathogens associated with Sjogren’s syndrome and other chronic diseases.  

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: Sjogren's Syndrome, virus, infection

Email:  Melodie.Weller@hsc.utah.edu

Dustin Williams, PhD

Title:  Research Assistant Professor - Orthopaedics

Our research is focused on developing therapies that target bacterial biofilms, which are highly tolerant to traditional antibiotics and contribute to difficulties in treating chronic wounds, surgical sites, orthopedic prostheses, diabetic foot ulcers and other pathologies. We also develop systems to investigate procedures or treatments that may reduce morbidity and complications such as heterotopic ossification in wounded warriors and civilian patients with the objective of improving quality of life.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: biofilm, antimicrobial, infection, bone, heterotopic ossification, models

Email:  dustin.williams@utah.edu

Matt Williams, PhD

Title:  Associate Professor - Pathology

Our research group seeks to understand the fate decisions that control the differentiation of T cells responding to infections and tumors. We are particularly focused on unraveling the mechanisms underlying the formation of long-lived memory T cells.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: immunological memory, T cell differentiation, anti-tumor immunity

Email:  matthew.williams@path.utah.edu

Jaclyn Winter, PhD

Title:  Assistant Professor - Medicinal Chemistry

Research in my lab focuses on natural products isolation and the bioengineering of natural product pathways for drug discovery and development. We use fungi and bacteria as resources for the discovery of new therapeutic agents and produce new chemical entities for biological activity testing by characterizing and manipulating the mechanisms that nature uses for assembling small molecules.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: natural products biosynthesis, drug discovery, microbial communication, antibiotics, bioengineering, combinatorial biosynthesis

Email:  Jaclyn.Winter@utah.edu

Mark Yandall, PhD

Title:  Professor - Human Genetics

The Yandell group develops computational algorithms and software tools to analyze genomics data, and uses these tools to identify disease-causing variants in clinical settings, to understand the molecular basis of gene dysfunction, and to understand evolution.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Host-Microbe Interactions

Keywords: genomics, data science, software

Email:  myandell@genetics.utah.edu