Hansen Lab
 
Infectious diseases continue to be significant causes of morbidity and mortality in both the United States and the rest of the world.  The virulence mechanisms that different pathogens use to circumvent or defeat host defense systems are mostly unknown or poorly understood. My laboratory is interested in elucidating the molecular bases of microbial virulence, which in turn will lead to new methods for prophylaxis and therapy of bacterial diseases.
Recombinant DNA methods are indispensable tools in the investigation of microbial virulence mechanisms. This technology, when used in conjunction with relevant model systems, can be employed to define the importance of specific gene products in the pathogenesis of bacterial infections. My laboratory utilizes molecular genetic systems and related technologies to study two different bacterial pathogens as prototypic microbial invaders. The first of these is Moraxella catarrhalis, a common cause of upper respiratory tract infection (i.e., otitis media) in infants and young children. The second is Haemophilus ducreyi, the etiologic agent of a sexually transmitted, genital ulcer disease known as chancroid.  
Research emphasis in the Hansen laboratory is placed on (1) the identification of bacterial genes that encode virulence factors, (2) the elucidation of the structure-function relationships inherent in these macromolecules, and (3) determination of how these bacterial factors subjugate host defense mechanisms.