Hunstad Lab Research

Work in our lab focuses on the interactions of pathogenic bacteria with their hosts. We aim to elucidate the modulation of host immune responses by pathogens and to determine the mechanisms by which these bacteria present specific virulence factors on their surfaces.

Currently, we use cultured bladder epithelial cell models and the murine model of cystitis to investigate the ability of uropathogenic Escherichia coli to modulate host innate and adaptive immune responses. In addition, we are studying the molecular mechanisms by which selected outer membrane proteins contribute to the virulence of uropathogenic Escherichia coli. Our primary goal is to discover novel targets for interventions that will prevent and treat bacterial infections of the urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, and central nervous system. Along these lines, we are leveraging recent discoveries in UTI pathogenesis to design nanoparticle-based therapies for prevention of acute and recurrent UTI. We have also launched a new translational study of immune responses to UTI in male and female infants.

We also participate in collaborative, translational studies of pediatric infections with community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) led by Stephanie Fritz and George Weinstock.

Our lab spans both the Pathobiology Research Unit and Patient-Oriented Research Unit within the Department of Pediatrics. The main lab is located on the 6th floor of the McDonnell Pediatric Research Building, while the clinical study staff are housed in PORU space on the 10th floor of the Northwest Tower.