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Opportunity at Chemical and Biological Defense Funded Laboratories (CBD)

Pathogenesis and Host Responses to Bacterial Diseases


AMRMC-U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, US Army Medical Research Insti Infec Diseases

RO# Location
01.10.01.B3443 Fort Detrick, MD 217025011


Name E-mail Phone
Welkos, Susan Lee 301.619.7757


We are interested in mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis and host resistance to infection with Yersinia pestis, Bacillus anthracis, and the pathogenic Burkholderia spp (B. pseudomallei and B. mallei). Recent research with them has included (1) pathogenesis and host response to infection; (2) mechanisms of immune protection; (3) cloning and analysis of DNA encoding the toxins, capsule, and other virulence factors/antigens; and (4) analysis of the roles of metabolites and other factors in pathogenesis of the Burkholderia. With B. anthracis, we used a mouse model to characterize the genetic differences of host susceptibility, determined mechanisms of innate resistance to lethal infection, characterized the plasmid-associated virulence of nontoxigenic B. anthracis, and evaluated protective efficacy of spore proteins and other toxin and nontoxin vaccine candidates. We determined that the B. anthracis PA toxin component is expressed and secreted early during spore germination and that anti-toxin antibodies have anti-spore activities including the inhibition of germination and stimulation of spore phagocytosis. Our current objective is to characterize strategies to decontaminate wide areas contaminated with anthrax spores. The goals of our research with Y. pestis were to study the roles in virulence and immunity of plasmid-encoded antigens such as the V (virulence) antigen develop defined vaccines for protective immunity to plague; and identify genes encoding factors in common with other biothreat pathogens. We developed a serum cytotoxicity neutralizing assay that is being evaluated as an in vitro correlate of immunity to plague. Current research with Burkholderia has focused on developing animal models, characterizing preventive countermeasures, and identifying in vitro phenotypes associated with changes in the infection state such as persistance.



Welkos, S: PLoSOne 10:e0124667, 2015

Omotade T: Journal of Applied Microbiology 117: 1614, 2014


Animal diseases and zoonoses; Bacterial immunology; Bacterial pathogenesis; Immunity; Infectious diseases; Plague; Vaccines; Anthrax; Glanders; Melioidosis;


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral applicants
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