Center for Emerging Pathogens
Center for Emerging Pathogens
News 12 New Jersey spoke to Dr. David Alland with the Rutgers Global Health Institute
to separate fact from fiction in terms of the coronavirus COVID-19.
Established in 1999, the Ruy V. Lourenço Center for Emerging and Re-Emerging Pathogens supports and fosters collaborative and translational research in infectious diseases that are increasing in frequency and/or becoming resistant to current therapies. Laboratory research at the Center is currently supported by $6.7 million in extramural support, over 90 percent of which is NIH funded. The nationally recognized faculty of the Center are experts in their fields of research and their collaborative approach continues to generate new discoveries and novel ideas.
Major projects in the Center include studies of drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and tuberculosis immunity and transmission; bacterial-parasite coinfection; the development of predatory bacteria as novel antimicrobial therapeutic approach; the development of advanced and rapid methods to detect infections both for biodefense and non-defense purposes; investigations of HIV biology and biochemistry aimed at developing new drugs to treat HIV infections; antibacterial drug discovery in pathogens of high medical significance, including agents with potential weapons potential. Members of the Center are involved in public health and biodefense policy in national and international arenas, and also lead clinical investigations of tuberculosis transmission, pathogenesis, immunity and strain variation at overseas sites in Uganda, India, Mexico and Brazil.
The Center is located at ICPH- Regional Biocontainment Laboratory and houses the laboratories of Drs. David Alland, Jerrold Ellner Padmini Salgame, Yingda Xie, and Jason Yang. The BSL-3 facility occupies 725 square feet and has four rooms (3 modules with 102 class II biosafety cabinets, , accessed through the 'common room') used for biohazardous work, plus an anteroom. The common room is a support area, containing freezers, an ELISA reader, a flow cytometer, a luminometer, a MGIT reader, a fluorescent microscope and a computer along with other standard laboratory equipment including a pass-through autoclave and isolated sink. This facility is open for use by all investigators studying respiratory pathogens with the exception of Select Agents.
Dr. Alland has been the principal investigator of multiple NIH grants relating to tuberculosis and biodefense. He is currently the Scientific Director of the TB – Clinical Diagnostics Research Consortium (CDRC), a member of the Tuberculosis Transformative Science Group of the AIDS Clinical Trials Group Network, and is a member of the NIH Clinical Research and Field Studies (CRFS) study section. For the past 20 years, Dr. Alland has directed a laboratory devoted to studying M. tuberculosis molecular epidemiology and phylogenetics, drug resistance and persistence, and advanced molecular diagnostics.
He has a proven track record of successfully developing and then applying advanced molecular approaches to study infectious diseases. This includes a series of projects, each led by Dr. Alland, which produced the Xpert MTB/RIF assay, the first near-patient, on-demand diagnostic test for tuberculosis and resistance to rifampicin. Highly relevant to the current application, Dr. Alland identified the iniBAC operon as the first genetic cause of drug-tolerance in M. tuberculosis, and characterized its complex regulation. He also has extensive experience investigating the genetic causes of drug resistant M. tuberculosis. Dr. Alland has collaborated with Dr. Jerrold Ellner for decades, starting with his involvement in the original TBRU. He has also had extensive long-term collaborations and experience in studying the mechanisms of drug action, drug resistance and persistence, and molecular diagnostics.
Dr. Salgame leads an experimental research laboratory that studies host immunity to Tuberculosis. She has made important contributions to the field of host immune responses against mycobacterial infections, which includes having been the first to demonstrate the presence of human T-helper 1 and T-helper 2 subsets.
Dr. Salgame runs a highly productive research program which has been continually well-funded by the National Institutes of Health. New research led by Dr. Salgame has established a connection between tuberculosis and infection by parasitic worms, a frequent occurrence in much of the world. In addition to studying experimental models of TB, Dr. Salgame’s laboratory also studies human tuberculosis with an emphasis on discovery of biomarkers for risk of progression to TB disease in latently-infected individuals. Her laboratory is also studying the innate immune mechanisms that protect individuals from M. tuberculosis infection following exposure. She has collaborated extensively with Drs. Ellner and Alland since 2004.
Dr. Salgame is Co-investigator on the International Collaboration for Infectious Disease (ICDR) research led by Dr. Ellner. She is also collaborating with Dr. Ellner on the NIAID’s US-Indo Vaccine Program, a component of the Regional Prospective Observational Research for Tuberculosis (RePORT-India) Consortium. Dr. Salgame has a successful record of collaborations, extensive experience in studying host immunity in experimental models of TB, and human immunology.
Joel S. Freundlich, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology & Neuroscience and of Medicine at Rutgers University–New Jersey Medical School. He arrived at NJMS in 2011, and is a member of the Division of Infectious Diseases and The Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Pathogens. Prior to his return to academic research, he spent eight years in the pharmaceutical industry as a medicinal chemist. His undergraduate and master’s degree training were in chemical engineering at Cornell University as a McMullen Dean’s Scholar. He received his doctorate in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the tutelage of 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awardee Richard Schrock.
See his lab website at: http://njms.rutgers.edu/departments/labs/freundlich/index.cfm
The Xie research group is focused on clinical and translational studies that lay the groundwork for new tuberculosis (TB) diagnostic approaches and the development of high-resolution clinical imaging tools for precision medicine research in TB.
With the advent of highly-sensitive diagnostics that challenge the detection limit of gold standard culture, our team is leading efforts to elucidate the biology and natural history of culture-negative and paucibacillary TB through integrated studies which overlay epidemiologic, clinical, and laboratory components. Additionally, we continue to work in close collaboration with Drs. Ellner and Alland and other key investigators to evaluate new TB diagnostics in multi-center clinical accuracy studies.
Our team also explores imaging biomarkers which characterize the inter- and intra- individual heterogeneity of TB disease that are not captured by dichotomous diagnostic test results. We seek to train clinical imaging modalities (eg. PET-CT) to recognize and link high-resolution biologic features (eg. histopathology), clinical phenotypes, and treatment responses. Our goal in this area is to develop a precision medicine research tool which compares the underlying pathology and therapeutic effects (host-directed or antibiotics) among patients with different manifestations of TB disease.
Dr. Yang is an Assistant Professor and Chancellor Scholar in the Microbiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics Department and Ruy V. Lourenço Center for Emerging and Re-Emerging Pathogens. He leads a multidisciplinary research program that studies disease pathogenesis and therapeutic efficacy for chronic and infectious diseases. His laboratory develops quantitative systems biology approaches that integrate integrating network modeling with machine learning and high-throughput experimentation.
Dr. Yang’s research program is funded by the National Institutes of Health and focuses on both host and pathogen factors that mediate antibiotic efficacy for diseases such tuberculosis. His lab also studies signaling mechanisms that regulate context-dependent cellular decision making in macrophages and other innate immune cells. His research has led to the discovery that metabolic cofactors such as ATP proactively regulate stress-induced increases in central metabolism and oxidative stress. His laboratory unifies biochemical screening, metabolomics, high-content imaging and live-cell assays with biological network modeling to enable interpretable machine learning for biomedical research.
More information can be found at his lab website: https://www.jasonyanglab.org/