The Infectious Disease Institute is a Harvard-wide initiative that operates in conjunction with the NIH-sponsored Harvard-wide Program on Antibiotic Resistance/Boston Area Antibiotic Resistance Network. This alliance promotes interdisciplinary collaboration between Harvard-affiliate hospitals and industry partners to screen and validate new compounds and for microbial infections—many of which can affect the eye. Members of the Infectious Disease Institute also explore the cellular mechanisms of infection (including host-pathogen interactions) and the genetics of microbial pathogens (such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi) to identify novel therapeutic targets.
Major Research Breakthroughs
In the last 20 years, our faculty have speaheaded many new innovations and advances in the field. Notably, they have:
- Established a 10,000-strain repository of clinical isolates and new molecular-based infection diagnostics to improve eye care
- Identified a mechanism for the evolution of novel adenoviruses that cause epidemic keratoconjunctivitis
- Pioneered new comparative and functional genomics technologies to discover how staphylococci and streptococci infect the ocular surface
- Traced the origins of antibiotic resistance in a leading multidrug-resistant hospital pathogen to the emergence of land animals, 450 million years ago
- Identified the molecule dynamin 2 as a key regulator of adenovirus trafficking, affecting both viral replication and inflammation, and identified a unique viral trafficking pathway in human corneal fibroblasts involving dynamin 2
2020 Vision: Promising Areas For Future Research
Our investigators aim to develop promising new compounds to fight the leading causes of multidrug-resistant infections, including staph and other related bacteria; and to develop new technologies, such as the Nanostring Project, for rapid diagnosis of ocular infections.
Image: Staphylococcus aureus leads to caspase-1 activation in primary conjunctival goblet cells. From: McGilligan VE et al. PLoS One. 2013 Sep 10;8(9):e74010.