Coers named 2016 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease

June 14, 2016
Durham, NC

Dr. Jörn Coers is one of ten recipients of the 2016 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease award sharing the ranks with Ashley Odom, MD, PhD, Duke MSTP alum and Nels Edle, PhD, the 2015 invited MGM Retreat Lecturer.

This award will support Jörn in the following research.  Lysis of pathogens or infected host cells is a central host defense strategy: cytotoxic lymphocytes lyse infected host cells and the complement system perforates extracellular pathogens. Recent evidence indicates that mammalian cells can also lyse those pathogens, which reside within the host cell cytoplasm, thereby providing antimicrobial resistance and stimulating inflammation. So far the components of this ‘intracellular analog of complement’ are largely unknown and the signals that trigger this mechanism remain uncharacterized. As part of the project supported by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund the Coers lab will apply proteomics and functional genomics approaches to identify the executioners and regulators of host-driven cytoplasmic lysis. As the Coers lab begins to decipher this newly discovered defense pathway, they anticipate coming across microbial evasion strategies and links to human diseases. Through the acquisition of a detailed molecular understanding of this intracellular membranolytic pathway, the Coers lab hopes to be able to device therapeutic tools to boost host defense or to limit proinflammatory, detrimental effects.