UNMC INBRE Mentors-Pathology & Microbiology

 Kenneth Bayles, Ph.D.
Professor and Vice Chairman for Research
E-mail: kbayles@unmc.edu  

Research Interests:  Bacteria are well known for their ability to rapidly divide and reach very high cell densities in the environment or within an animal host. My research has focused on a previously undiscovered regulatory system that controls bacterial cell death. Using Staphylococcus aureus as a model system, we have demonstrated that the controlled death of bacteria is essential for normal development of multicellular bacterial communities known as biofilms. Furthermore, this research has led to the proposal that this system is functionally analogous to regulatory proteins controlling cell death in more complex organisms including humans.

For more information on Dr. Bayles: Web Site

Paul D. Fey, Ph.D.
Associate Director and Professor
E-mail: pfey@unmc.edu

Research Interests:  Staphylococcus epidermidis is the preeminent cause of infections involving prosthetic heart valves, intravascular catheters, and other bio-material based devices.  The most important step in the pathogenesis of S. epidermidis mediated foreign body infections is the ability of the organism to adhere and to produce biofilm on the surface of the biomaterial.  After initial adherence, certain strains of S. epidermidis produce an extracellular biofilm, or polysaccharide intracellular adhesin (PIA), that is encoded by a four gene (icaA, icaD, icaB, and icaC) operon ica.  We currently study the transcriptional regulation of the icaADBC operon in addition to studying the overall biofilm biology of S. epidermidis.  We are very interested in arginine metabolism and its role in establishing a mature biofilm.   The Fey laboratory is part of a larger group of investigators at the University of Nebraska studying the biology of staphylococci including pathogenesis, immunology, metabolism, antibiotic discovery, animal models, and biofilm. 

For more information on Dr. Fey: Web Site

Tammy Kielian, Ph.D.
E-mail: tkielian@unmc.edu

Research Interests:  Brain abscess represents a serious infection, especially due the recent emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, and can cause long-term deficits including seizures and cognitive loss. Dr. Kielian’s laboratory is interested in studying how bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) influence the immune response during brain abscess development. We utilize a mouse model of infection developed in our laboratory to study many basic questions related to how cell types native to the brain (i.e. microglia and astrocytes) and immune cells entering the infected brain from the blood recognize S. aureus through a family of molecules called Toll-like receptors (TLRs). In addition, we study how infection alters cell-cell communication in the brain that may impact the extent of tissue damage. Our research projects utilize state-of-the-art techniques such as quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to track brain abscess evolution and exploit a comprehensive approach to infection by studying responses at the molecular and cellular levels as well as studies in the mouse model.

For more information on Dr. Kielian: Web Site

Rakesh K. Singh, Ph.D.
E-mail: rsingh@unmc.edu

Research Interests:  The majority of cancer deaths are a result of the cancer cells spreading from the original tumor to other sites in the body.  This process is called metastasis.  Our laboratory is studying some of the critical proteins that cancer cells make that help this process occur.  We are also trying to define what are the important proteins that cancer cells make that enable them to go specifically to one organ rather than another.  Once the important metastasis-related proteins are identified, it may be possible to block their activities as a means of treating cancer patients to prevent the spread of cancer within the body.

For more information on Dr. Singh: Web Site

Steven Tracy, Ph.D.
E-mail: stracy@unmc.edu

Research Interests:  Our laboratory is studying the role of coxsackieviruses in a number of different diseases.  We are continuing to define the molecular biology of this virus family with the goal of being able to understand how it causes disease, with the goal of developing preventive vaccines for the population.  We are also interested in understanding what virus products expressed after cellular infection cause viral-induced disease, such as heart inflammation, and what are the determinants in the viral genome that enable it to persist in tissues for months without causing disease.

For more information on Dr. Tracy: Web Site