Marna Ericson, PHD
Director, Cutaneous Imaging Center
Department of Dermatology
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
“Mechanisms of Persistence of Bartonella ssp”
Our goal is to understand mechanism(s) of persistence of vector-borne infectious diseases and in particular the stealth pathogen Bartonella. This pathogen is indeed under-diagnosed due to its fastidious and unique growth characteristics; factors that lead to difficulties in detection. Of particular interest to our lab is the role of biofilms in persistent Bartonellosis and the resulting pathologies. Though the ability of Bartonella species to cause biofilm-mediated endocarditis is reported, the role of Bartonella species biofilm formation elsewhere in the mammalian body is unknown. We are using new imaging technologies and cross-disciplinary approaches to understand these disease mechanisms. Advanced imaging techniques we employ include single- and multi-photon microscopy, correlative microscopy, electron microscopy, microPET imaging, super-resolution confocal microscopy and second harmonic generation. We analyze human tissues and blood for Bartonellae as well as in vitro biofilm and culture methods and we are developing several different mouse models to aid in our research efforts.
Collaboration and innovation are hallmarks of my research endeavors; working with local, national and international colleagues in e.g. Brazil, Germany, England, North Carolina, Massachusetts, California, Maryland, District of Columbia, and the Hormel Institute in Austin, MN. Past successful collaborations include endeavors in infectious disease, skin cancer, myeloma, breast cancer and tumor pain, and hair disease.
Our mission is to use best science practice to address the complicated and under-appreciated complications of chronic Bartonellosis.
Conference Lecture Summary
Bartonella spp, are vector-borne stealth pathogens. Our goal is to understand the role of biofilms in manifestation of prolonged bacteremia and resulting pathologies caused by persistent Bartonella spp. infection. Bartonella species are known to cause life-threatening biofilm-mediated endocarditis. We use advanced imaging techniques to characterize Bartonella spp. biofilms, both in vitro and in vivo. We use single- and multi-photon microscopy and correlative microscopy with electron microscopy, microPET imaging, super-resolution confocal microscopy and second harmonic generation imaging to accomplish these ends. We are using these advanced tools and new mouse models to understand disease persistence and stealth mechanisms.