Stuart Johnson, MD
– Professor, Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, and Staff Physician,VA Hospital in Hines, IL
– Mentor for Michael Aldape, PhD

Dr. Johnson is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in the epidemiology and pathogenesis of C. difficile infections and has over 27 years of combined research and clinical medicine experience.  He has also been a clinical investigator in several treatment trials of C. difficile infection and has had continuous VA research funding.  His main research interest is the role of exotoxins in the pathogenesis of C. difficile disease.  He has an excellent publication record with over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 18 book chapters, and has mentored 11 Infectious Disease Fellows, 2 PhD students, and a PharmD Infectious Disease Fellow during his career.  In addition, Dr. Johnson serves as a council member for the Anaerobe Society of the Americas and of the C. difficile Guidelines Expert Panel for the Infectious Disease Society of America.  He is an ad hoc reviewer for numerous basic science and medical journals and is a regular member of both NIH and VA study sections. 

Rodney K. Tweten, PhD

– Research Professor, Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center
– Mentor for Devin Bolz, PhD

Dr. Tweten is George Lynn Cross Research Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, OK.  He is a world-renown expert on the structure function aspects of pore-forming bacterial protein toxins.  Dr. Tweten and the COBRE Program Director, Dr. Dennis Stevens, have a long-standing collaboration to investigate the role of these toxins in the pathogenesis of necrotizing infections due to C. perfringens and group A streptococcus.  Their collaborative efforts have resulted in several jointly authored publications.  Dr. Tweten has a remarkable publication and mentoring record and a long history of NIH funding support.  He serves regularly on NIH study sections and as a reviewer for numerous high-impact scientific journals, including Infection and Immunity and Nature.  For Dr. Bolz’s project, he will provide expertise regarding the structure function relationships of the S. aureus serine/threonine kinase and its relationship to homologous kinases produce by diverse Gram positive pathogens.

Amy Bryant, PhD

– Research Career Scientist, Boise VA Medical Center
– Mentor for Michael Aldape, PhD and Sarah Hobdey, PhD

Dr. Bryant is a distinguished Research Career Scientist at the Boise VA Medical Center, and is a nationally-recognized expert in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis of severe necrotizing infections caused by toxin-producing Gram positive pathogens, including clostridia and group A streptococcus (GAS).  She has strong mentoring and publication records and has served as Major Professor for several successful PhD candidates in the joint VAMC/BUS/UI and AMC/ISU graduate education programs, including for Dr. Aldape.  Dr. Bryant is also an investigator and Mentor in the Idaho INBRE-e Program, and has mentored 20+ INBRE undergraduate research fellows, 3 graduate students, and 9 post-graduate fellows.  Her ongoing research investigates host –pathogen interactions responsible for cryptic GAS infection of the soft tissues following non-penetrating injury, and the mechanisms by which NSAIDs augment this process.  She is also a product of the joint VA/BSU/UI graduate program initiated by Dr. Stevens, and was a participant in Idaho first COBRE award as junior investigator (Greg Bohach, PI) where she began her studies of toxin-induced vascular dysfunction in clostridial infections.  Since then, she had VA and NIH support for studies investigating the mechanisms responsible for cryptic GAS infections.  She has an ongoing NIH R21 award to develop a novel biomarker as a diagnostic tool for these infections.  In 2012, Dr. Bryant received the competitive Research Career Scientist award from the VA Office of Research and Development in recognition of her 25+ years of exceptional scientific achievements and her long-standing service to the Boise VA research mission and the local scientific community.  Specifically with respect to Dr. Aldape’s project, she will provide her expertise on the role of clostridial toxins in pathogenesis as it relates to leukocyte function and vascular integrity.

Dr. Bryant has published extensively on the role of SLO (and similar cholesterol-dependent cytolysins) in pathogenesis, especially regarding the mechanisms of toxin-induced vascular injury, thwarting of the tissue inflammatory response and the role of toxins in Strep TSS-associated cardiomyopathy.  She is using advanced proteomics and molecular techniques to discover novel biomarkers that can distinguish between muscle injury alone, and injury complicated by infection for development as a clinically useful diagnostic tool to improve outcomes in patients with these infections.  For Dr. Hobdey’s project, Dr. Bryant will contribute her general expertise on the role of bacterial exotoxins in the pathogenesis of necrotizing infections, including those caused by GAP, her knowledge of relevant animal models, and her understanding of the mechanisms of toxin action on the immune response.  In addition, she will share her knowledge and expertise in the isolation and functional characterization of human immune cells of flow cytometry.

Harry Hill, MD

– Professor of Pathology, Pediatrics, and Internal Medicine, University of Utah Medical Center
– Mentor for Sarah Hobdey, PhD

Dr. Hill is a Professor of Pathology, Pediatrics, and Internal Medicine at the University of Utah Medical Center where he established the Infectious Disease/Clinical Immunology Clinic.  He is founder and Medical Director of the Cellular and Innate Immunology Laboratory at ARUP Laboratories, the national reference laboratory owned by the University of Utah.  He is a renowned expert in the epidemiology and streptococcal disease and streptococcal immunity, and his published work on the use of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies against certain strains of group B streptococcus are directly translatable to Dr. Hobdey’s proposed study of group A streptococcal immunity.  Dr. Hill’s current study of multi-analyte assays to detect human immune responses has potential to greatly benefit the proposed research in that such assays could aid the PI in her efforts to develop a fully recombinant human anti-toxin antibody for therapeutic use in cases of GAS infection.  He has decades of successful mentorship experience, a long-standing independent research career with strong publication record, and a vast network of collaborators.