Professor of Medicine and Microbiology & Molecular Genetics
School of Medicine, University of California Irvine
Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
School of Biological Sciences
Biography: M.D., Tufts University
For more than 30 years I have been studying the pathogenesis of Borrelia infections, the most important of which are relapsing fever, one of the neglected tropical diseases, and Lyme disease, the most common arthropod-borne disease in North America and Europe. For much of that time the emphasis was on understanding the genetics, disease mechanisms of the pathogens, and immune responses of the hosts of the microbes. This has involved a variety of approaches and disciplines and has focused on the bacteria and experimental animal models in the laboratory setting. But over the last several years the research direction has turned toward a studies of populations of microbes and their hosts, as well as their evolution and natural variation. A practical aspect of this work is aimed toward the development of a vaccine that is targeted to the wild animals that carry the Lyme disease pathogen to reduce the risk of transmission to people. We have also started a collaboration with Dr. Anthony Long, a population geneticist in the School of Biological Sciences, on the genetics and genomics of the predominant host animal for the infection in nature, Peromyscus leucopus. Another new area of research has grown out of a collaboration with Dr. Donald Blake in the School of Physical Sciences and my interest in using breath analysis for both diagnosis and monitoring of disease in a non-invasive way. Our main finding from experimental models is that the ratio of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide in the exhaled breath is a suitable biomarker for real-time assessment of the inflammatory state during sepsis and other serious infections.