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School of Public Health
Department: Biomedical Sciences
Molecular genetics of mycobacteria; infectious diseases; Tuberculosis; human genome; gene therapeutics
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Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciences Todd Gray is a researcher at the Wadsworth Center focusing on infectious diseases, including Tuberculosis.
While virtually eradicated in the United States, Tuberculosis occupies the top spot as the world’s number one infectious killer. A combination of improved living conditions and the use of antibiotics have reduced the domestic incidence of tuberculosis so effectively that it has nearly vanished from the U.S.
But this situation is tenuous. Americans are often shocked to hear that one-third of global population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The ease of international travel assures our continued exposure to this infectious agent. Several complicating factors reduce the efficacy the antibiotic regimens used to treat tuberculosis, ultimately promoting drug resistance. The emergence of escalating levels of antibiotic resistant strains of M. tuberculosis pose major public health threats wherever they are found.
Gray and his team at the Wadsworth Center are utilizing novel techniques to better understand M. tuberculosis, and learn how to control its growth and pathogenicity. His lab combines multiple genome-wide tools, such as whole-genome sequencing, expression arrays, and ChIP-chip assays to identify key processes and interactions that may be exploited as therapeutic targets.
Since many of the M. tuberculosis genes, proteins, and biological pathways are conserved in other mycobacteria, he uses the fast-growing, non-pathogenic Mycobacterium smegmatis for most of his studies. His team's goal is to further leverage their experimental system to expedite the development of the much-needed next generation of tuberculosis vaccines or therapeutics.