Project led by Dr. Tina Mele, General Surgery, and Dr. John McCormick, Microbiology & Immunology, receives $1 million in funding

Dr. Tina Mele, Associate Professor, Division of General Surgery, and Co-PI Dr. John McCormick, Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, will receive $1,090,126 over five years from CIHR toward their project entitled, "Staphylococcus aureus at the commensal-pathogen interface: the superantigen paradox."

Project Abstract from CIHR:

Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium known to cause very serious disease in humans, but much of the time it can live harmlessly as a colonizing organism on the skin or in other sites such as the nose. This current research proposal is designed to understand how S. aureus can move from being a harmless colonizer to a serious pathogen by focusing on a group of important toxins called 'superantigens' which are found in all strains of S. aureus. These toxins can inappropriately activate a large number of white blood cells (called T lymphocytes) which in turn disrupts the ability of the immune system to respond properly to S. aureus. This proposal aims to answer the question of what role superantigens play in colonization and the progression to disease. To investigate this, we will use both colonization and infection models in mice, as well as analysis of the immune system and how it is manipulated by the bacteria during human blood stream infections. These studies are designed to provide a better understanding as to how this prominent bacterial pathogen can overcome our immune defenses with a goal of helping to devise rational therapeutic strategies including vaccines.


Read more about the Western University projects receiving funding from the CIHR Spring 2019 Project grant competition.