Research Interests

The re-emergence of bacterial pathogens as a significant threat to public health has lead to an increased awareness of food safety. One of the most common food-borne pathogens is Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria found to contaminate a variety of raw and processed foods including vegetables, meats, and dairy products. Listeria infection can result in a variety of illnesses ranging in severity from fever and nausea to meningitis and fetal miscarriage. In the past decade it has been found that lactic acid bacteria, common food borne bacteria that are non-pathogenic, produce small peptides, termed bacteriocins, that kill Listeria. Work in our lab focuses on understanding the key features of these molecules that allow them to target and kill competing bacteria such as Listeria. This work can in turn aid in the further development of these molecules as both potent and safe drugs and food preservatives in the endeavor to find new means of fighting and preventing human diseases.

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