Bacteriology

Dr. Brian Akerley's Research

Research in the Akerley lab focuses on the biology and pathogenicity of Haemophilus influenzae, a bacterium that normally colonizes the human nasopharynx asymptomatically yet frequently causes disease by spreading to other sites in the body. Depending on a complex interplay between the host and the infectious strain, H. influenzae invades the bloodstream, spreads to the middle ear, or infects the lungs. The transition between asymptomatic colonization and disease involves a change in the balance between bacterial virulence mechanisms and host defenses. Moreover, our recent evidence indicates that these interactions are markedly influenced by co-infecting pathogens, such as the influenza A virus. Understanding how this balance is maintained and disrupted will require a comprehensive understanding of H. influenzae biology and its interactions with the immune response, host metabolism, normal flora, and co-infecting pathogens.