Van Es 114
- Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Michigan (2006)
- Principal Investigator in the Bacteriology and Genomics departments of the National Bioforensic Analysis and Countermeasure Center (2010-2012)
- Chief of Microbiology at the Air Force Theater Hospital & 256th Army Combat Support Hospital in Balad, Iraq (2010-2011)
- Adjunct Faculty in Microbiology at Hagerstown Community College (2009-2010)
- Principal Investigator in the Bacteriology Division at the US Army Research Institute of Infectious Disease (2006-2010)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nosocomial or hospital-acquired infections are responsible for 100,000 deaths each year in the United States alone. Of these, nearly two-thirds are caused by Gram-negative bacteria. Work in my laboratory involves the characterization of virulence mechanisms of Stenotrophomonas, Acinetobacter, and Cronobacter species. Historically, these clinically relevant pathogens have not been considered model experimental organisms. As such, they have not received the research attention they deserve. We are able to supersede the reliance on model organisms by leveraging recent advances in functional genomic technologies, which eases our requirements for genetic tractability. A guiding paradigm of the laboratory is the Ecological and Evolutionary (Eco/Evo) model of bacterial virulence, which holds that bacterial pathogenecity is not simply the result of "virulence factor" acquisition, but rather that it is a by-product of co-evolution between bacterial and eukaryotic cells during their long history of close ecological associations. Understanding pathogenecity in this way and implementing appropriate experimental approaches using various protists and insects as "host" organisms allows us to perform our studies at a scale that is compatible in throughput with next-generation sequencing-based functional genomics approaches. Our long-term goals are to gain a mechanistic understanding of the disease processes employed by these important pathogens with the hopes of exploiting weaknesses in these mechanisms for therapeutic intervention of disease.