Research Veterinary Medical Officer
Food Safety and Enteric Pathogens Unit
USDA National Animal Disease Center
1920 Dayton Ave, Bldg. 20
Ames, IA 50010
The focus of my research is to develop and test efficacious mucosal vaccines to limit intestinal colonization in turkeys by the food-safety pathogens Campylobacter jejuni and C. coli. These organisms are intestinal commensals of poultry (turkeys and chickens) that heavily colonize their gastrointestinal tract. Contaminated poultry products represent a pre-harvest source of food-borne disease. The majority of human Campylobacter spp. infections are caused by C. jejuni (90% of cases) and C. coli (approximately 10% of cases). In 2013, there were 845,024 reported cases of human campylobacteriosis, resulting in $1.93 billion in healthcare costs. Strategies to reduce Campylobacter contamination in food products include improved biosecurity on-farm, administration of non-antibiotic feed additives to reduce Campylobacter colonization in the GI tract, improved hygiene during slaughter, and the use of bacteriophages and vaccines. Campylobacter vaccines for food-producing animals must be cost effective, safe, and formulated for mass-application. The efficacy of Campylobacter vaccines in turkeys is unknown.
Current research plans include identification of novel C. jejuni vaccine antigens using RNA-Seq to sequence the transcriptome. Differently expressed genes are being cloned and expressed as recombinant protein(s), and may be incorporated into functionalized polyanhydride nanoparticles designed to target M cells in the distal intestinal tract. Different routes of administration will be evaluated (oral in water, oral in food, parenteral administration) to determine their ability to affect Campylobacter colonization in turkeys. Other research interests include studying changes in intestinal microbial ecology of turkeys and how intestinal homeostasis and immune response ( TH17 and Treg) are affected.
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Microbiolgists, 2004
PhD Veterinary Immunology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2002
DVM Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, 1996
BA Microbiology, Kansas State University, 1992