Ashok K. Chopra, CSc, PhD

My research interests during the past 26 years have been on identifying virulence factors/mechanisms from several gram-negative bacteria and to demonstrate their role in causing human diseases by developing isogenic mutants. We have delineated the mechanism of action of some of the important virulence factors (associated with type-2, -3, and -6 secretion systems) and studied regulation of these genes. New genes up-regulated only during infections, have also been isolated and are being characterized. We have performed microarray and proteomics analyses that helped in further defining the mechanism of action of the selected virulence factors. Some of the microbial toxins identified in the laboratory are being tested as potential mucosal adjuvants.

Our research interests are also in examining bacterial-host interaction with specific emphasis on cell signaling leading to various biological effects in the host. My laboratory has developed attenuated strains of Salmonella, Aeromonas, and Y. pestis that could be potential new vaccine candidates and are being aggressively studied. My group has also identified new immunogenic proteins from Y. pestis that could be used for developing a new generation plague subunit vaccine. Our current studies are focused on animal model development and testing new vaccines and therapeutics against all category A select agents. We are testing new platforms to display antigens from biodefense-related pathogens that are protective. Our studies are also focused on quorum-sensing molecules as therapeutics in controlling bacterial infections. Finally, we have identified a novel host regulatory molecule to control inflammation in diseases such as IBD and atherosclerosis.

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