Microbiology and Pathogenic Mechanisms
Infectious agents continue to wield their power to cause disease—witness the ongoing AIDS/HIV epidemic. Herpes simplex virus infection is serious, and deadly in AIDS patients, as are many opportunistic infections, such as pneumocystis in AIDS patients, pseudomonas in cystic fibrosis patients and histoplasma in immunocompromised individuals.
Cytomegalovirus is an important cause of birth defects and contributes to atherosclerosis. Though not widely appreciated, whooping cough causes about half a million deatmicrohs globally each year, and the incidence of pertussis infection in the United States has been steadily increasing for the last 30 years, despite a strong vaccination program.
E.coli continues to be a major contaminant of meats and vegetables and causes numerous hospitalizations each year. Despite the best efforts of medical researchers, treatment of these diseases continues to be a complicated task.
The Department of Molecular Genetics has numerous research groups in bacterial, viral and fungal pathogenesis that confront the medically important agents mentioned above.