Improving antibiotics against persistent bacteria
Our lab studies the response of bacteria to antibiotics in order to develop new methods for eradicating persistent bacteria. Bacterial persistence is a form antibiotic resistance in which a transient fraction of bacterial cells tolerates severe antibiotic treatment while the majority of the population is eliminated. These ‘persisters’ can contribute to chronic infections and are a major medical problem. Despite their medical and scientific importance, presistence is not fully understood. A crucial challenge in studying bacterial persistence results from a lack of methods to isolate persisters from the heterogeneous populations in which they occur. As a result, systems-level analysis of persisters is beyond current techniques, and fundamental questions regarding their physiological diversity remain unanswered. Our lab seeks to develop methods to isolate persisters and study them with systems-wide, molecular techniques. The resulting findings will be used to engineer improved antibiotic therapies. Dr. Allison’s previous research included development of a novel method to eradicate pathogenic bacteria, including Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, by metabolic stimulation and the finding that bacteria communicate with each other to alter their tolerance to antibiotics.
Georgia Institute of Technology & Emory University