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Researcher | Research Overview

Our laboratory pursues both basic and translational studies to understand and treat infections caused by intestinal bacteria. Areas of interest described below include the impact of intestinal pathogens on host metabolism and nutrition, development of biofilm-based antigen and enzyme delivery platforms, and the discovery of novel natural products with antimicrobial activity.

  1. The interaction of intestinal pathogens with their hosts on metabolic landscapes. In developing countries, diarrheal disease is a key contributor to malnutrition. We hypothesize that, in addition to increasing stool transit time, diarrheal pathogens modulate host nutrient utilization. Using both invertebrate and vertebrate models to coordinately manipulate host and pathogen genomes, we are exploring the mechanisms by which intestinal pathogens modulate host metabolism.
  2. Biofilm matrix-based antigen and enzyme delivery platforms. To form a surface-adherent biofilm, many bacteria require an extracellular matrix comprised of polysaccharides and polysaccharide-binding proteins or lectins. By fusing antigens and enzymes to these lectins, we are constructing self-assembling, whole cell antigen or enzyme oral delivery systems.
  3. Discovery of novel therapeutics from natural products to treat multi-drug resistant bacteria. We have developed a high-throughput, whole cell metabolic screen to detect antimicrobial activity. We are currently using this screen to identify natural products that are active against multi-drug resistant bacteria.

Researcher | Research Background

Paula Watnick received her PhD from the California Institute of Technology and her M.D. from Yale University. She completed an internship and residency at Beth Israel Hospital, Boston and an Infectious Disease Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her postdoctoral research was conducted in the laboratories of Dr. Stephen Calderwood at Massachusetts General Hospital and Dr. Roberto Kolter at Harvard Medical School.

 

Researcher | Publications