Francisella tularensis causes a disease called tularemia. Untreated, infection with a virulent strain of this bacteria can result in up to 30% mortality. Although much is known regarding the immune response and pathogenesis of this organism, little is understood regarding its ecology. Ecological conditions contribute to the natural foci of F. tularensis. Natural waters, mosquitoes and rodents appear to be important players in the cycle of disease transmission or sources of infection. The disease cycle may also be affected by expression of virulence factors of the bacteria which are induced by environmental stimuli such as temperature, osmolarity, minerals and pH. Our lab is interested in the ecological factors that induce expression of bacterial virulence factors and how then these factors affect the host-bacteria interaction and pathogenesis. Of particular interest is the biofilm lifestyle of the bacteria and how changes at this level affect transmission and environmental persistence of the organism.
Our lab uses state of the art molecular biology techniques such as cytometry, 2D gel electrophoresis and microfluidics to investigate microbial adaptation to a variety of natural environments. In vivo analyses in mosquitoes and small mammals provides opportunities for further exploration of how ecological adaptations of the bacteria play a role in infection. For information on current projects, laboratory personnel and available positions please visit our website at www.microbesadapt.com.
We are currently searching for a highly-motivated graduate student, interested in pursuing a PhD in microbiology, to join our lab. All applicants should have a strong GRE score and undergrad GPA, be able to work well in a team or individually, possess basic microbiology skills and have good English communication skills (oral and written). Undergraduate research experience in microbiology or molecular biology is preferred, but not required. Interested applicants should submit a curriculum vitae (including GRE, GPA and TOEFL (if necessary)) and a 1-2 page statement of how a graduate degree in microbiology will help you achieve your goals. CV and statement should be submitted to Dr. Tamara McNealy, email@example.com.