Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases

Research includes:

  • Antibiotic and Antiviral Drug Development and Design
  • Biocatalysis
  • Bioremediation
  • Cellular Microbiology
  • Functional Genomics
  • Gene Expression
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Immunology
  • Inflammation
  • Metabolic Engineering
  • Metabolic Flux Analysis
  • Microbe-Host Interactions
  • Microbial Diversity
  • Microbial Ecology
  • Microbial Ecophysiology
  • Microbial Genomics
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Molecular Pathogenesis
  • Molecular Stress Response
  • Protein Phosphorylation
  • Signal Transduction
  • Systems Biology
  • Virus Assembly
  • Virus Structure
  • Vaccine Development

Training Group Mission:

The goal of our training group is to prepare the next generation of research scientists, teachers, and decision-makers to address fundamental problems in microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases. Students in the Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases Training Group develop a broad understanding of biochemistry, cellular biology, cellular microbiology, ecology, environmental biology, host-pathogen interactions, immunology, microbiology, microbial physiology, molecular biology, and molecular genetics.This training provides students with a strong foundation in basic and applied research that will prepare them for a wide range of careers in academia, government and industry.

Faculty Membership

Research Area
Bacteriophage, bioreporters in bioelectronics, metabolic engineering, recombinant bacterial strains, microbial ecology

Our research is focused on the synthesis of complex glycoproteins, natural products, and oligosaccharides of importance in immunology and oncology. Ideally, in direct collaboration with biologists and clinicians, this will lead to the identification of lead structures as pharmacological tools and potential therapeutics.

The crossing of the intestinal epithelial cell barrier is a crucial initial step for Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) pathogenesis. We reported that Lm can induce epithelial barrier dysfunction allowing bacterial paracellular translocation. This is largely attributed to the interaction of Listeria adhesion protein (LAP; 94 kDa), an alcohol acetaldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme with host cell receptor, Hsp60. The LAP-Hsp60 interaction activates canonical NF-κB signaling, facilitating myosin light-chain kinase (MLCK)-mediated opening of the epithelial barrier via the cellular junctional protein redistribution of claudin-1, occludin, and E-cadherin. Next, bioengineered Lactobacillus probiotics (BLP) strains expressing the LAP from a non-pathogenic Listeria (L. innocua) and Lm robustly colonized the intestine and protected mice from lethal Lm infection (92% survival). The BLP competitively excluded Lm by occupying the epithelial Hsp60 receptor and ameliorated the Lm-induced intestinal barrier dysfunction by limiting the loss of mucus-producing goblet cells, restricting epithelial apoptotic and proliferative cells, and blocking the NF-κB and MLCK-mediated redistribution of the epithelial junctional proteins. Additionally, the BLP increased intestinal immunomodulatory functions by recruiting FOXP3+T cells, CD11c+ dendritic cells and natural killer cells. Engineering a probiotic strain with an adhesion protein provides a novel strategy to prevent enteric pathogen colonization and infection.
Transcriptional regulation in poxviruses
Development of small molecules, peptides and peptidomimetics for drug discovery, bionanotechnology, and cellular delivery of therapeutic agents

Chemical Immunology: Cell specific chemical perturbation of immune microenvironments in cancer, neurological and immunological disorders

Biomaterials, Musculoskeletal Regenerative Engineering, Micro/Nano-technology, Stem Cell Technology, Translational Biomedical Research
neutrophils, microRNA, cell migration, microbial-host interaction and zebrafish.

Insect Microbial Ecology, Insect-Symbiont Interactions, Metagenomics, Applied Evolutionary Entomology, Vector Biology

Our laboratory develops strategies that can leverage the immune system to simultaneously repair bone and control inflammation or cell viability. The overall
therapy goals are to (a) treat tumors and repair bone in tumor models and (b) treat and repair cartilage/bone in arthritis models.

Use of chemistry as a tool to elucidate biological mechanisms
Mechanism of the transfer to and expression of the Agrobacterium tumefaciens Ti-plasmid in plant cells
Structural basis for RNA function
Molecular biology of arthropod vectors of disease, with an emphasis on vector-pathogen interactions, characterization of arthropod G protein-coupled receptors, and insecticide discovery.
method developments and applications of cryo-EM
Soil chemistry
veterinary pathology, molecular pathology, immunopathology, mouse models of human disease, inflammatory bowel disease, microbiome, colon cancer, dengue virus

Our lab focuses on acquiring and utilizing high throughput sequencing data (e.g. RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, ATAC-seq) to develop new computational models and biological assays to study genome regulation and human diseases, in particular immune related disorders and cancer. We are now working on the discovery and modeling of the regulatory circuitry of the non-coding genome which is essential for maintaining normal cellular physiology.

Epigenetics, Impacts of Chromatin on Gene Expression, DNA Replication & DNA Repair
The Konradt lab studies infections and the subsequent host immune response in two separate, yet overlapping compartments: the vascular system and the placenta.
Viral gene expression; virus-host interactions; pathogenesis; virus receptors and virus assembly
Systems biology of host-pathogen interactions; dengue virus; malaria parasites; protein-protein interactions
Immunotherapy, A regulatory mechanism of anti-tumor immunity, A resistance mechanism of target therapy and/or immunotherapy, Antibody engineering
Diagnostic pathology, molecular pathology, and immunohistopathology of infectious, toxic, and neoplastic diseases
Dietary controls on the gut microbiome, host-microbe and microbe-microbe metabolic exchange, gut inflammation and enteropathogenesis
Development of targeted therapic and imaging agents for cancer and various inflammatory diseases. Function and molecular organization of the human red blood cell membrane. Novel methods for detection of human pathogens.
Type IV protein secretion of Legionella pneumophila; intracellular multiplication and trafficking of bacterial pathogens

Cancer immunotherapy, immunoengineering, natural killer cells, nanomedicine, cell and gene engineering, immunotherapy of solid tumors

Biochemistry, Signal Transduction, Microbiology
Molecular Genetics of Plant Immunity - with emphasis on host defense response to necrotrophic fungi
Gene-to-Lead Drug Discovery
Metabolic flux analysis of photosynthetic organisms
Immune mechanisms of inflammatory diseases; T cell differentiation and function

In the Parkinson lab, we focus on the discovery of novel antibiotic and anticancer natural products from cryptic biosynthetic gene clusters found in soil dwelling

Computational chemistry and biological NMR
Microbial pathogenesis; host-parasite interactions; molecular detection and differentiation of microbial pathogens; recombinant and DNA vaccines
Entry of retroviruses and other enveloped viruses into cells; mechanism of enzymatic phosphoryl transfer
Ecology of infectious disease in freshwater organisms (amphibians and zooplankton). We study how changes to the environment alter disease risk in individuals, populations, and communities.

1) Cyclic dinucleotide signaling in bacteria and immune cells. 2) Bacterial quorum sensing. 3) Inhibitors of protein kinases (examples are: FLT3, ABL1, ROCK1/2, LRRK2, RET, CDKs). 4) Novel antibacterial and anti-biofilm agents.

1) Ebola virus and Marburg virus assembly and budding from the host cell plasma membrane.
2) Ceramide-1-phosphate and other sphingolipids signaling in cancers.
3) Zika virus and alteration of host cell lipid metabolism.
4) Disovery of new lipid-binding proteins.​
Oncogene expression in eukaryotic cells
The Trader laboratory seeks to develop tools to harness the proteasomal machinery to facilitate clearance of diseased cells, especially cancer and virus-infected cells. Our research program will seek to identify compounds that enable us to stimulate, rescue, inhibit, and direct protein degradation of the proteasome. We anticipate discovering compounds that target the proteasome through unprecedented mechanisms of action. Our innovative strategies for the discovery of small molecules that interact with the proteasome will be translated to new therapeutics and tools.
Dr. Verma’s goal is to engineer human microbiomes for improving health. He aims to achieve this objective by understanding the principles of designing and assembling desired communities of microorganisms.
Organic synthesis, nanostructured materials science, self-assembly principles to produce exotic materials with physical or biomimetic function
Controlled drug delivery, bio-nanotechnology
Salmonella typhimurium Type III secretion; actin cytoskeleton rearrangements and bacteria-host interactions

Ernest C. Young Hall, Room 170 | 155  S. Grant Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2114 | 765-494-2600

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