Creighton INBRE Mentors-Microbiology & Immunology

Jason C. Bartz, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Research Interests:  Prion diseases are a group of fatal neurodegenerative diseases that affect humans (e.g. Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease) and animals (e.g. chronic wasting disease).  All prion diseases of animals and a majority of prion diseases in humans are due to prion exposure by a peripheral route (e.g. ingestion).  Details of the mechanism(s) of prion transport to the CNS are poorly understood.  My lab is investigating three areas of prion pathogenesis.  First, we are exploring alternative routes of prion entry into the host in an attempt to better define the possible routes that prions can gain access to the CNS.  Second, we are investigating the role of the innate immune system in processing and transport of prions to secondary LRS tissues.  Finally, we are interested in factors that influence susceptibility of neurons to prion infection and/or replication. 

For more information on Dr. Bartz: Web Site

Michael Belshan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Research Interests:  My fundamental research interest is virus-host cell interactions, specifically related to the replication and pathogenesis of a subgroup (subfamily) of retroviruses known as lentiviruses. Members of this subfamily include the human and simian (monkey) immunodeficiency viruses (HIV and SIV, respectively).  Our goal is to better understand not only how these viruses reproduce (replicate) and cause disease, but also how host cell interactions contribute to this process. Our current research focuses on characterizing events that occur very early in virus infection. We use proteomic and cell biology approaches to obtain results that provide insights not only into mechanisms of virus replication and pathogenesis, but also the biology of cellular pathways. Projects include:  1) The isolation and mass spectrometry analysis of HIV protein complexes; 2) The characterization of the role of novel host proteins in HIV replication; 3) study of the nuclear import of HIV preintegration complexes; and 4) the evaluation of inhibitors of HIV infection.

For more information on Dr. Belshan: Web Site

Kristen M. Drescher, Ph.D.

Research Interests:  Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS) in humans. Patients with MS normally experience a chronic progressive loss of motor and/or sensory functions. The origin of MS is unknown, although some investigators have postulated than an environmental agent (i.e. a virus or bacteria) may trigger the disease. My laboratory utilizes a mouse model of virus-induced demyelination (Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus) to study immune factors involved in the development of pathology and clinical disease.

For more information on Dr. Drescher: Web Site

Richard Goering, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair
Director, Molecular Epidemiology

Research Interests:

My laboratory is involved in research related to the epidemiological analysis (i.e., tracking the movement in patient populations) of problem bacterial pathogens.  We have developed a number of methods that are currently used both nationally and internationally to monitor the movement of these organisms (e.g., pulsed field gel electrophoresis, PCR, and DNA sequence based methods).  With the explosion of new chromosomal sequence information (there are now approximately 200 completely sequenced bacterial genomes) we are searching for new, previously unknown, chromosomal “signature” sequences that may help to identify problem bacterial pathogens and better allow us to monitor their spread.

For more information on Dr. Goering: Web Site

Patrick Swanson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Research Interests:  My laboratory is interested in mechanisms of immune repertoire diversification.  My research program is focused on studying various aspects of V(D)J recombination, which is the process by which genes that encode antibodies and the receptors on T cells are assembled during cell development.  Our three major areas of research are: (1) identifying and characterizing protein-DNA complexes involved in the cleavage and joining phases of V(D)J recombination; (2)  determining how recurrent targets of aberrant V(D)J recombination, which have been identified in certain forms of cancer, are targeted by the V(D)J recombinase; and (3) exploring the developmental stage specificity of secondary V(D)J recombination events that occur in response to B cell receptor engagement of self-antigen (receptor editing) or to immunization or infection (receptor revision). 

For more information on Dr. Swanson:  Web Site