Jimmy Ballard, Ph.D.
Professor and Chairman
Dr. Ballard studies toxins produced by Bacillus anthracis and Clostridium difficile, two prominent Gram-positive pathogens. He uses a combination of cellular and molecular biology, and bacteriology to study the effects these bacterial toxins on eukaryotic cells, and has pioneered the zebrafish embryo as a novel system to follow localization of toxins to major organs in real-time.
Darrin Akins, Ph.D.
Dr. Darrin Akins laboratory is focused on identifying molecules that could be used to develop a vaccine for Lyme disease. Lyme disease is the most common infection transmitted by ticks to humans in the United States and a vaccine for this debilitating disease is a public priority. Dr. Akins' laboratory has been identifying novel outer surface proteins from the organism that causes this disease so that they can be used in the future to prevent Lyme disease or improve diagnostic strategies for identifying patients afflicted with this disease.
Ira Blader, Ph.D.
Dr. Blader's laboratory studies the interaction between microbial pathogens and their human hosts. They have focused on the obligate intracellular protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which is the cause of potentially fatal diseases in fetuses and immune compromised patients. Two major questions are under investigation. First, what pathways in the host cell are necessary for the parasite to grow. Second, how are immune responses initiated and function against the parasite in immune privileged tissues. Noah S. Butler, Ph.D.
Dr. Butler’s laboratory is focused on investigating protective immunity against the malaria parasite, Plasmodium. Two central questions are being pursued in parallel. First, what are the critical numerical and functional features of T cells and antibodies that coordinately act to limit or clear Plasmodium infections? Second, how does persistent malaria infection impact pre-existing anti-Plasmodial immunity or the ability of the host to mount de novo protective immune responses against the parasites?
Daniel J. Carr, Ph.D.
Dan Carr, Ph.D. investigates the host immune response to the highly prevalent human virus pathogens, herpes simplex virus (HSV) types 1 & 2. In mouse ocular (HSV-1) and genital (HSV-2) models of infection, the role of chemokines and their receptors in the generation and recruitment of effector cells (T and NK cells) in response to infection is currently under evaluation.
Madeleine W. Cunningham, Ph.D.
Dr. Madeleine Cunningham has focused for 30 years on molecular mimicry, autoimmunity and infection in studies of inflammatory heart diseases related to streptococci and viruses. Her work involves studies of the pathogenensis of rheumatic carditis, myocarditis and cardiomyopathy as well as the fetal heart disease hypoplastic left ventricle syndrome(HLHS). A second area of her research focuses on the brain and the pathogenesis of movement and behavioral disorders associated with streptococci, including Sydenham chorea, the neurologic manifestation of rheumatic fever, and pediatric autoimmune neurologic disorder associated with streptococci (PANDAS). Currently her laboratory is involved in studies of human diseases, to improve their diagnosis and treatment and determine how infections play a role in autoimmune diseases of the heart and brain. Her laboratory studies both B and T cell immunology as well as neuronal and cardiomyocyte cell signaling. Dr. Cunningham is the director of the NIAID supported Immunology Training Program at the University of Oklahoma for the past 10 years. She has been the recipient of NHLBI Career Development and MERIT Awards and has been funded NIH for the past 25 years.
David Dyer, Ph.D.
Dr. David Dyer's work centers on microbial pathogenesis and microbial genomics. His laboratory has been responsible for sequencing the genomes of the human pathogens Neisseria gonorrhoeae andAggregatabacter actinomycetemcomitans and in the sequencing of a strain of nontypeableHaemophilus influenzae.Additional studies are exploring the regulation of the iron regulon inNeisseria gonorrhoeae, and initial studies in gene regulation in Bacillus anthracis.
Joseph J. Ferretti, Ph.D. Dr. Ferretti's laboratory was the first to complete the genome analysis ofStreptococcus mutans. Recent work has centered on the genetics of sugar transport and metabolism and the regulatory mechanisms involved in metabolism and virulence.
Allison Gillaspy, Ph.D.
Dr. Gillaspy is the Director of the Laboratory for Genomics and Bioinformatics at the OUHSC which is a state of the art facility that specializes in genomic technology and custom DNA sequencing. A major focus for our lab in recent years has been to aid in the integration of next generation sequencing technology, specifically the SOLiD platform from Applied Biosystems, into existing biomedical research.
William H. Hildebrand, Ph.D.
The Hildebrand Laboratory is focused on the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and class II molecules. These molecules mediate the rejection of organ and bone marrow transplants, the targeting of cancerous and virus-infected cells for immune destruction and autoimmune responses such as diabetes and arthritis. To delineate the role that MHC molecules play in these various immune scenarios, the Hildebrand Laboratory studies MHC genes and the proteins they encode.
Molly Hill, Ph.D.
Dr. Hill is the graduate student liaison and education coordinator for the Department. Her duties include directing the academic program of graduate students in the department and coordinating the teaching activities for graduate, medical and dental students.
John J. Iandolo, Ph.D.
Vice President of Research
Dr. John Iandolo is studying predatory bacteria that attack and grow on gram negative bacteria. These fragile bacteria grow vigorously when susceptible bacteria are present, but die-off when prey disappear. His laboratory is focused a strain of Bdellovibrio that forms cysts as an innate survival mechanism allowing it to persist in nature in the absence of prey cells. Ultimately he intends to develop the use of this organism as a treatment for superficial infections caused by gram negative bacteria.
Jens Kreth, Ph.D.
Dr. Kreth studies the complex interactions between members of the oral biofilm. Under healthy conditions the commensal oral flora maintains a beneficial homeostatic state protecting the host from diseases like caries. Host behavior and environmental conditions can promote a shift in the microbial composition of the oral biofilm. More pathogenic bacteria are able to increase in numbers and an overall decline in species diversity can be observed. On the molecular level, bacteria maintain the ecological balance by diverse interactions, both antagonistic and synergistic. The Kreth lab aims to identify and characterize the molecular details of these interactions to better understand disease development.
Mark Lang, Ph.D.
Dr. Lang and his team are researching the development and maintenance of antibody-mediated immunity also known as humoral immunity. The major focus is on mechanisms by which a specialized subset of T cells known as natural Killer-like T cells (NKT) are activated and in turn boost long-term humoral immunity. The laboratory has two specific goals: (i) understand the mechanisms by which NKT cells regulate long-term humoral immunity, (ii) apply the knowledge to develop novel vaccine strategies against pathogenic bacteria and viruses.
Justin Merritt, Ph.D.
in Streptococcus mutans, regulation of genetic competence in Streptococcus mutans, interspecies interactions among periodontal bacteria, and host-flora interactions in the oral cavity.
Fengxia(Felicia) Qi, Ph.D.
Rodney K. Tweten, Ph.D.
John West, Ph.D.
Lauren Zenewicz, Ph.D.