I am a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and hold a secondary appointment in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Prior to joining Emory, I was an Associate then Full Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology at the University of Virginia (UVA). My first academic position was an Instructor and then Assistant Professor at the Channing Laboratory, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School.
I have had continuous NIH funding to support the on-going research in my laboratory. I study the biology of bacterial pathogens associated with life-threatening lung infections in individuals living with cystic fibrosis (CF), particularly Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and members of the Burkholderia cepacia complex. My research is focused on the study of the synthesis and regulation of surface antigens, including polysaccharides and protein adhesins, and their role in infection and as potential antimicrobial and vaccine targets. I have an outstanding research reputation and track record, and have published numerous peer-reviewed papers, editorials, chapters, and reviews on these topics. With my move to Emory University, I have been able to increase my interactions with both clinicians and patients. My research has also expanded to include bacterial-bacterial interactions and analysis of specimens from patients. In my role as Co-Director of the Emory CF Biospecimen Repository (CF-BR), which provides human-derived samples (including bacterial isolates) from CF patients and associated metadata, I interact with physicians, clinicians, clinical coordinators, and scientists to help facilitate microbiologic studies of CF disease progression. It is my hope that our findings can be translated into therapeutics that limit infections in CF and in other diseases.
In addition to my own research, I am strongly committed to training the next generation of scientists and strive to promote them to succeed in their chosen career paths. Thus far in my career, I have sponsored and trained 20 graduate students (18 previous and 2 current) and 22 postdoctoral fellows (20 previous and 2 current) in my laboratory, as well as numerous undergraduates and junior faculty members. At UVA, I served as the Graduate Student Advisor for two different NIH T32 training grants. At Emory, I served as Director for the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Training Program, part of the Emory University Laney Graduate School Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. In recognition of my efforts and contributions as a mentor, I was awarded the American Society for Microbiology Graduate Microbiology Teaching Award in 2012.