Infectious Disease Institute

 

 Staphylococcus aureus leads to caspase-1 activation in primary conjunctival goblet cells.

DIRECTOR
Michael S. Gilmore, PhD

ASSOCIATE DIRECTORS
James Chodosh, MD, MPH
Marlene Durand, MD

 

MEMBERS
See a list of Infectious Disease faculty

 

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. 

Featured News

Researchers develop new class of antibiotics to fight leading superbugs

March 29, 2018

In a significant advance against drug-resistant superbugs, investigators supported by the Harvard-wide Program on Antibiotic Resistance have identified a new class of synthetic antibiotics that have been shown to be effective against Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus. The newly discovered antibiotics could one day help treat deadly infections caused by these superbugs.

The research group, which included Michael Gilmore, PhD, Sir William Osler Professor of...

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Michael Gilmore, PhD, chairs $20 million antibiotic-resistance challenge

Michael Gilmore, PhD, chairs $20 million antibiotic-resistance challenge

April 13, 2017

In March 2017, Michael Gilmore, PhD, Director of the Harvard Infectious Disease Institute, chaired a blue ribbon panel that reviewed the most promising applications for the Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge--a $20 million federal prize competition to develop innovative, rapid point-of-care laboratory diagnostic tests to combat the development, and...

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Mass. Eye and Ear team discovers, successfully treats new variant of antibiotic-resistant bacterium

September 15, 2016

Boston, Mass. —  Researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear have discovered a new mutation in a highly antibiotic-resistant strain of E. coli that resists clearance by the body’s own immune system by inhibiting white blood cells that ordinarily kill and remove bacteria. In a paper published online today in JAMA Ophthalmology, the researchers describe the case that led them to...

Read more about Mass. Eye and Ear team discovers, successfully treats new variant of antibiotic-resistant bacterium
Scientists Discover New Properties of Microbes That Cause Common Eye Infection

Scientists Discover New Properties of Microbes That Cause Common Eye Infection

November 12, 2014

Findings described in Nature Communications

BOSTON, MASS. – Scientists from Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology have used the power of new genomic technology to discover that microbes that commonly infect the eye have special, previously unknown properties. These properties are predicted to allow the bacterium ― Streptococcus pneumonia ― to specifically stick to the surface of the eye, grow, and cause damage and inflammation. Researchers are now using this information to develop new ways to treat...

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