Professor, Env. and Occ. Health Sciences
Adjunct Professor, Epidemiology
Adjunct Professor, Global Health
Center for Infectious Disease Research
Office: Suite 100
University of Washington
4225 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98195
Department of Global Health
Seattle Biomedical Research Institute
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
A cost-effective way to reduce global infectious diseases is to reduce transmission and infection of new hosts. We seek to accomplish this through 1) better case finding made possible by biomarker discovery and improved diagnostic tools; 2) improved detection of pathogens in water, food, and other environmental sources; and 3) better understanding of the epidemiology of infectious disease acquisition. Our translational research interests include:
- Improved biomarker discovery tools for infectious disease diagnosis. We are developing novel recombinant antibody-like "probes" to detect pathogen molecules in patient samples. In a new NIAID-funded project entitled "Accelerated Molecular Probe Pipeline", these methods are being used to identify new biomarkers of infection by Entamoeba histolytica, a significant waterborne gastrointestinal pathogen. The project is an international collaboration with partners in the United States, Australia, and Bangladesh.
- Tuberculosis diagnosis. With funding from the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), we are partnering with Response Biomedical, Inc. (Vancouver, Canada) to develop a new point-of-care diagnostic test to detect biomarkers of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in patient samples.
- Molecular epidemiology of mycobacterial infections. Pathogens in the genus Mycobacterium cause tuberculosis, leprosy, MAC disease (Mycobacterium aviumcomplex), and other significant diseases. Molecular pathogen detection methods, initially developed for infectious disease diagnosis, are being utilized to better understand the host, pathogen, and environmental factors involved in the acquisition of mycobacterial disease.
- 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, its widespread use is limited in part by its inability to distinguish viable pathogen cells from dead cells and free nucleic acid fragments. With funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency and other sources, we have shown that PCR tests for ribosomal RNA precursors (pre-rRNA) can overcome this problem. We are developing pre-rRNA tests for pathogen detection in environmental as well as clinical samples. Current targets include Aeromonas hydrophila, MAC, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
PhD, Microbiology, University of California (Davis) 1984
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