Lia Danelishvili

Associate Professor, Biomedical Sciences

I study the pathogenesis mechanisms of both non-tuberculous and tuberculosis causing mycobacterial pathogens. The non-tuberculous mycobacterial organisms (NTMs) that my group investigates are Mycobacterium abscessus and Mycobacterium avium (prevalent pathogens in HIV patients and in individuals both with immunosuppression and chronic lung pathologies) and M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis (etiological agent of Johne's disease in ruminant animals). We investigate bacterial virulence mechanisms and host-pathogen interactions. I also have ongoing drug discovery projects to identify novel compounds that target a) virulence factors uniquely expressed by intracellular bacteria and b) host factors influencing the pathogen's survival, and c) the biofilm formation. In addition, we characterize mycobacteriophages a) to overcome bacterial drug resistance and b) to understand phage-mediated innate immune responses by macrophages. The multidisciplinary approaches empolying microbiology and cell biology techniques, bacterial genetics, high throughput screening libraries, gene knockout systems, the high-resolution microscopy, bioinformatics and mass-spectrometric sequencing are used in the laboratory to understand many basic questions that will help in the development of new therapeutic strategies.