Deborah Dean


MCB, UC Berkeley; School of Medicine, UCSF


Chlamydia species, host-pathogen interactions, trachoma

Project Description

TITLE: The interplay of the ocular microbiome, chlamydial species, and host immune responses in the heathy versus diseased eye among trachoma patients PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) is the leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide with an estimated 600 million cases with 9 million blind and over 150 million at risk for visual impairment or blindness. This blinding eye disease is called trachoma and is found in developing countries worldwide. While we know that Ct is a cause of trachoma, other Chlamydiaceae species have been implicated in disease pathogenesis, namely C. pneumonia, C. psittaci, C. pecorum and C. suis. But we lack appropriate knowledge about other microbes that may contribute to ocular disease in trachoma endemic areas. Therefore, we will be studying the microbiota among patients with and without trachoma, and with and without Chlamydia infection, in samples from populations in trachoma endemic regions of Nepal, Ethiopia and Vietnam. We will employ genomics to identify all organisms present at the species level, metabolomics to identify metabolic profiles, and transcriptomics to identify gene expression profiles that will enhance our understanding of what constitutes a healthy conjunctiva and what contributes to the trachomatous conjunctiva. We will also evaluate the host immune response including eucosinoids. This research will aid in the development of tests to detect ocular pathogens and provide invaluable data for drug targets and chlamydial vaccine development.


Undergrads interested in multidimentional and fulfilling lab experience – no prior experience required although some courses in molecular biology and genetic/genomics would be helpful

Expected time commitment

Full time in the summer – opportunity to continue during the school year

Preferred start time:

Mid to late May or 1st week in June