UTSA infectious disease researchers speak at international conference in Berlin


In Berlin (from left) are UTSA researchers Neal Guentzel, James Chambers, Bernard Arulanandam, Karl Klose and Jeff Barker

Share this Story

(Oct. 15, 2009)--Ten researchers from the UTSA South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (STCEID) attended in September the sixth International Conference on Tularemia at the University Hospital Charite, Charite Campus Mitte, in Berlin, Germany. Six of the 10 UTSA participants presented at the conference, which served as a forum for researchers in many disciplines to exchange ideas about the bacterium Francisella tularensis and its fatal infection, tularemia.

>> View The AT&T Art Collection at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

"For years, Francisella tularensis was developed as an intentional bio-weapon," said Karl Klose, STCEID director and UTSA professor of microbiology and immunology. "Even now, Francisella tularensis causes tularemia epidemics in many parts of the world. By sharing our knowledge of the bacterium with other tularemia researchers in the international community, we are better poised to collectively develop effective treatments and preventive measures against tularemia."

Approximately 232 researchers attended the international conference including Klose and fellow STCEID members Bernard Arulanandam, James Chambers and Neal Guentzel, all professors in the UTSA Department of Biology. Also attending were UTSA graduate students Heather Ray and Annette Rodriguez; postdoctoral fellows Jeffrey Barker, Yu Cong and Jieh-Juen Yu; and UT Health Science Center at San Antonio graduate student Aimee Signarovitz, who performs her research at UTSA.

Discussions at the international conference focused on fundamental, clinical and applied research on the F. tularensis bacteria. Topics included the biological and genetic interactions of F. tularensis with an infected host; the molecular mechanisms of F. tularensis persistence and targets for disease control; the epidemiology and ecology of F. tularensis; tularemia infections in non-human primate models; and mechanisms of tularemia immunity, vaccination and immunotherapy.

At the conference, Klose gave a molecular and biochemical analysis of the bacterium along with other panelists, and Yu discussed the identification of potential tularemia biomarkers from F. tularensis infected plasma. Rodriguez was a panelist for the conference's discussion of the cell biology of F. tularensis.

Attendees perused more than 100 scientific posters including five developed by UTSA researchers:

  • "Characterization of the Secreted Effector Protein IgIC in Francisella Tularensis Virulence," Jeffrey Barker
  • "The Efficacy of Oral Vaccination with a Defined Francisella Vaccine Strain in Inducing Protective Immunity Against Pneumonic Tularemia," Jieh-Juen Yu
  • "Analyses of Phagocytic Ability of Rat Macrophages for Francisella Tularensis," Heather Ray
  • "Evaluation of Defined Francisella Tularensis subsp. Tularensis Attenuated Strains for Vaccine Efficacy in a Murine Model," Karl Klose
  • "A Hypothetical Outer Membrane Lipoprotein of Francisella Novicida Mediates Invasion of IFN-y Induced Inhibition Within Murine Macrophages," Jieh-Juen Yu

"Conferences such as the International Conference on Tularemia are extremely important for the improvement of public health and the development of new infectious disease treatments," said Klose. "Although bacteria cause many different types of infections, we see striking similarities in the methods that various bacteria use to cause infections. The more we learn about a model bacterium like tularensis, the better off we are in learning about the next one."



UTSA Bold Promise CTA

UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.