Experts Share Latest Findings About Relationship Between Microbes and Human Immune System

As evidence that a newly emerging and perhaps more virulent strain of bird flu is spreading in China, a multi-disciplinary group of researchers from around the world are gathering at the Ohio State University Center for Microbial Interface Biology (CMIB) to discuss ongoing research of infectious disease threats ranging from flu to HIV, tuberculosis to drug-resistant bacteria.

Its easy to believe that infectious diseases that are happening in other countries dont really impact us here in the United States, but in todays connected world, thats just not true anymore, says CMIB director Larry Schlesinger, MD. What we are learning here is helping save the lives of people at the hospital next door and people half way around the world.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the CMIB was one of the first centers in the nation to pull together multi-disciplinary teams to research infectious disease from angles ranging from genomics to pharmacology to public health. Under Schlesingers leadership, the approach has resulted in major breakthroughs in drug discovery, diagnostics and vaccines, particularly in the areas of tuberculosis and drug-resistant superbugs. Since 2010, CMIB members have published 550 peer-reviewed papers in 271 different journals and received nearly $65 million in federal funding.

There is an intricate dance between a bacteria or virus and the human immune system that happens on molecular levels that were only just beginning to tease apart because the technology is getting better, says Schlesinger. As were seeing with the newest bird flu outbreaks move fast. From a community and global health perspective, ongoing sharing of research is so critical to making breakthroughs. Were still not as fast as the microbes are, but were getting better, and were winning more often.

This is the fifth CMIB Research Retreat. It is showcasing the research from nearly 90 faculty members plus their research staff and students across seven colleges, institutes and centers, and includes close partnerships with Nationwide Childrens Hospital, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and a growing number of private partners. It continues to grow in stature and impact nationally and internationally due to the significant productivity and visibility of its members. There are major thematic programs in drug discovery, biofilms in human medicine and antimicrobial resistance.

The meetings featured oral presentations by Ohio State scientists cover a wide variety of topics, including advancements in HIV, how clinicians can win against the drug-resistant bacteria currently ravaging the nations hospitals, super strains of tuberculosis and insights into quirks of both microbes and the human immune system that can be leveraged to prevent disease and death. Session presentations include:

Three decades of HIV transmission and prevention efforts. Keynote speaker Myron Cohen, MD, J. Herbert Bate Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, and Public Health at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Zinc supplementation to stop sepsis. Beth Besecker, assistant professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Ohio State College of Medicine, Immunologic Impact of Zinc Status During Sepsis

Hep C the 21st centurys newest chronic illness. Christopher Walker, professor, Department of Pediatrics, Nationwide Childrens Hospital, Mechanisms of Immune Control, Failure, and Reconstitution in Hepatitis C Virus Infection.

What TB in the elderly can teach us about the human immune system. Joanne Turner, associate professor, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, Ohio State College of Medicine, Is Failing Adaptive Immunity the Cause of Susceptibility to Tuberculosis in the Elderly?
How Lyme diseases unique use of metal helps it bypass the immune system. Xin Li, assistant professor, Department of Veterinary Biosciences, Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Living in Two Worlds: Understanding the Metal Biology of the Lyme Disease Spirochete.

Infectious disease prevention takes a (Malawi) village. Alison Norris, assistant professor, Division of Epidemiology, Ohio State College of Public Health, The Role of Decision Making in the Prevention and Treatment Of Infectious Diseases.
This group represents a range of academic expertise and underscores the unique collaborative environment at CMIB that has allowed it to become one of the premiere infectious disease research centers in the nation in less than a decade, notes Carolyn Whitacre, PhD, vice president for research at Ohio State, who will also be providing opening remarks on the second day of the two-day event.

In addition to featured presentations, more than 85 poster presentations by graduate students, post-docs and faculty and staff will on display at the Biological Research Tower lobby. Scientists will be sharing their poster abstracts on both days, which the public can attend. Each evening, graduate and undergraduate students will vote on their favorite posters.

The retreat is being held April 19. CMIB will be live-tweeting highlights from the research presentations using the hashtag #OSUCMIB. A recap of the event will also be posted at

Source: Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center