Education

Ph.D.
Biomedical Sciences, UTHSCH-GSBS
M.Ed.
Curriculum and Instruction, University of Houston
B.A.
Biology/History, Rice University

Areas of Interests

Research Interests

Pathogenic spirochetes, Mechanism of antigenic variation, Vaccine development

Research Information

My research focuses on the mechanisms that pathogenic spirochetes use to establish persistent infections in humans. Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterial species that causes Lyme Disease, is able to persist for years in humans. An important mechanism this bacteria uses to evade clearance by the host immune system is called antigenic variation. The bacteria continually vary the proteins that are expressed on its surface and thereby evade host generated antibodies. My research focuses on the molecular mechanisms the bacteria uses to achieve this variation.

Treponema pallidum, the causative agent of syphilis, can persist in the host for decades. Research into this pathogen is hampered by an inability to culture the organism in vitro. We are investigating methods to grow the T. pallidum in vitro and to genetically manipulate this intractable organism in vivo.