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About Us

The FEMERIS Women’s Health Research Center has two research teams, the Applied Microbiology and Infectious Disease Team lead by Dr. Scott Gygax and the Advanced Genetic Diagnostics Team lead by Dr. Sergey Balashov.

Applied Microbiology and Infectious Disease Team

The research of the Applied Microbiology and Infectious Disease Team is focused on the development of assays to detect antimicrobial resistance in bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections associated with Obstetric and Gynecological infections, such as Group B Streptococcus, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Candida spp., and Trichomonas vaginalis. We try to understand microbial and immunological factors associated with recurrent and chronic bacterial vaginosis and vulvovaginal candidiasis. Additionally, we works towards the discovery of novel therapeutics by designing and performing high-through-put small molecule inhibitor screens against microbial pathogens in collaboration with Venenum Biodesign, L.L.C. and the development of engineered probiotics to maintain health vaginal and gastrointestinal environments.

 

Scott E. Gygax

Scott E. Gygax, Ph.D.
Director of FEMERIS
Team Leader
Applied Microbiology
and Infectious Disease

Sean Chadwick

Sean Chadwick, M.S.
Research Associate

Geoffrey Toner

Geoffrey Toner, M.S.
Research Associate

Natalie Barnett

Natalie Barnett, M.S.
Research Associate

David W. Hilbert

David W. Hilbert, Ph.D.
Research Scientist III

Jessica Schuyler

Jessica Schuyler, M.S.
Laboratory Manager

Terry Paulish Miller

Terry Paulish Miller, M.S.
Research Associate

W. Lamar Smith

W. Lamar Smith, B.S.
Collaborative Research
Clinical Coordinator

 

Advanced Genetic Diagnostics Team

The research of the Advanced Genetic Diagnostics (AGD) Team is focused on microbial and human genetics and genomics, clinical diagnostic test development, validation and implementation with focus on nucleic acid based assays. We use a variety of contemporary DNA and RNA based molecular technologies, which include real-time PCR, Luminex® microarray, and 454 next generation sequencing. AGD has developed high complexity diagnostic assays for human genetic diseases and microbial pathogens: cystic fibrosis mutation panel, Ashkenazi Jewish mutation panel, factor II and V mutation test, sickle cell anemia mutation test, Neisseria gonorrhoeae antibiotic resistance mutation panel. Recently, we developed a Lactobacillus speciation and quantitation testing for improved bacterial vaginosis detection and monitoring of antibiotic treatment success. Currently, our team is investigating the role of commensal vaginal flora, i.e. Lactobacilli, in maintaining a health vaginal environment.

 

Sergey Balashov

Sergey Balashov, Ph.D.
Team Leader
Advanced
Genetic Diagnostics

 

Collaborative Partners

Current collaborative efforts include the investigation of microbial and immunological factors associated with preterm birth, premature rupture of membranes, and intrauterine growth restriction.

 


Kathryn Iocono

MDL

Kathryn Iocono, Ph.D.
Molecular Diagnostic Development
Team Leader
Medical Diagnostic Laboratories, L.L.C.

 

Current collaborative efforts include the development of a probiotic strain for a therapy for gastrointestinal inflammation.

 


Grant Gallagher

Humigen

Grant Gallagher, Ph.D.
Genetic Immunology
Team Leader
Humigen, L.L.C.


Joseph Nickels

Venenum Biodesign

Joseph Nickels, Ph.D.
Director of Target Biology
and Validation
Venenum Biodesign, L.L.C.

Latest News

10/2013 - FEMERIS Research Associate, Geoffrey Toner, and Director Dr. Scott Gygax had a manuscript entitled, “Novel antifungal drug discovery based on targeting pathways regulating the fungal-conserved Upc2 transcription factor” accepted into the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

9/2013 - FEMERIS Director Dr. Scott Gygax presented work done by Research Associate Sean Chadwick in a poster entitled “Disruption of Gardnerella vaginalis biofilms with clindamycin and metronidazole” at the 53rd Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Denver, Colorado.

8/2013 - FEMERIS Research Associate, Geoffrey Toner, and Director Dr. Scott Gygax had a manuscript entitled, “Flucytosine antagonism of azole activity versus Candida glabrata: role of transcription factor Pdr1 and multidrug transporter Cdr1” accepted into the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

5/2013 - FEMERIS Research Associates, Lamar Smith and Sean Chadwick, and Director Dr. Scott Gygax had a manuscript entitled, “Detection of epidemic USA300 community-associated MRSA strains using a single allele-specific PCR targeting a novel polymorphism of Staphylococcus aureus pbp3” accepted into the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

1/2013 - FEMERIS Director Dr. Scott Gygax had a manuscript entitled, “Mixed vaginitis- more than coinfection and with therapeutic implications” accepted into the journal Current Infectious Disease Reports.

1/2013 - FEMERIS Research Associates, Jessica Schuyler and Sean Chadwick, and Director Dr. Scott Gygax had a manuscript entitled, “X-Plate Technology™: A new method for detecting fluconazole resistance in Candida species” accepted into the Journal of Medical Microbiology.