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Dr. Pablo C. Okhuysen

Dr. Pablo C. Okhuysen

Associate Member

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Infectious Diseases, Infection Control and Employee Health

The evolutionary pressure that infectious diseases have placed on the human genome is substantial and has undoubtedly contributed over time to the functional variation of the genome.  Small variations in the human genome can determine not only susceptibility to infection with a particular pathogen but also can influence the intensity of infection, disease severity and in some instances, long term complications.  The laboratory is interested in the identification of variations in human genes that influence the attachment, colonization, recognition by the innate immune system, inflammatory response and the specific acquired immune response to enteropathogens that cause diarrhea.   Using a gene-candidate approach in children with endemic diarrhea and in travelers with diarrhea, the laboratory studies how human DNA single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) relate to infection with various enteropathogens and validates their functional relevance to infection in vitro.

Cryptosporidium is a common cause of diarrhea worldwide.  This environmentally resistant organism infects the intestinal epithelial membrane of various hosts and localizes to a unique intracellular but extracytoplasmic parasitophorous vacuole.  The parasite’s life cycle consists of sexual and asexual stages but cannot be propagated in artificial media.  The laboratory is interested in the identification of Cryptosporidium virulence determinants and antigens that are recognized during naturally acquired and experimental infection. 

Enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) is an emerging enteropathogen that has been associated with acute and persisting diarrhea in children of developing countries and in patients with uncontrolled HIV infection.   Recently, EAEC has been identified as a common cause of sporadic diarrhea in US children.   In addition, chronic EAEC infection is becoming increasingly associated with neuro-developmental deficits in children of developing countries.  The laboratory is interested in developing tools for EAEC identification, understanding the mechanisms by which EAEC attaches to the intestinal epithelium, the role of biofilm in establishing infection and the antigens that are recognized during naturally acquired infection.

During the tutorial trainees will be introduced to research on human genetic variation and susceptibility to infection, methods used to detect virulence determinants and measure host immune response to enteric pathogens.

PubMed

SciVal

Program Affiliation:

Clinical and Translational Sciences

Contact Information

Phone: 713.745.8413

Email: pcokhuysen@mdanderson.org

Office: MDA FCT 12.6086 (Unit 1469)

Title: Professor

Education:

M.D. - Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara - 1985