Faculty Head to California for Sabbatical Leave: Mark Forsyth
Dr. Forsyth was hired in 2000. Since then, he's received tenure, promotion, and mentored many students!
I'm on research leave during 2007-2008. I decided to step outside my little Helicobacter pylori box for the year and use a different experimental model system to study my favorite questions related to signal transduction and the evolution of virulence. In Dr. Peggy Cotter's lab at UC Santa Barbara, respiratory pathogens in the genus Bordetella are a main experimental system. Species in this genus cause Pertussis (Whooping Cough) in humans and various respiratory diseases in other mammals (e.g. Kennel Cough in dogs).
The genetic tools available in this system are much more extensive than those available in Helicobacter pylori . Importantly, the BvgAS signal transduction system that exists in this genus is one of the best-understood systems for the regulation of bacterial virulence determinants.
I'm spending my time examining the transcription of adenylate cyclase toxin (cyaA) and the filamentous hemagglutinin (fhaB) in response to an understudied environmental signal. We have found this signal results in a response by the human pathogen Bordetella pertussis that differs from the response seen in the nearly genetically identical animal pathogen, B. bronchiseptica. Hopefully this may allow us to simultaneously learn more about the evolution of the human pathogen as well as reveal new details about the regulation of virulence factors by the BvgAS signal transduction pathway. – Mark Forsyth