I am a researcher in basic and translational biology of the female genital tract and reproductive health. Specifically, my research provides insights into mechanisms of microbe-epithelial interactions, inflammation and innate immunity, which hold the key to solving major problems in reproductive outcomes, resistance to infection and cancer.
My early work concentrated on the basic aspects of the vaginal biome, e.g., epithelial cell differentiation and innate immunity phenotypes, sperm immunogenicity, toll-like receptor signaling, and sensitization to Gram-negative bacteria in the reproductive tract. More recently my research brakes ground in discovering the role of protozoan endosymbiont viruses in human disease. I have generated epithelial cell lines immortalized by expression of HPV16/E6E7 and to date, these are the only non-cancer cell lines available through the ATCC, representing the human endocervical, ectocervical and vaginal epithelia, which are widely used for studies on infection, immunity and cancer pathogenesis.
I am the Principal Investigator of several NIH-funded studies of Trichomonas vaginalis, a protozoan genitourinary parasite, which is an established risk factor for cervical and prostate cancer. I plan on investigating the role of the Trichomonas vaginal endosymbiont viruses in cancer pathogenesis.
I have been a co-investigator on several clinical research projects focused on mechanisms and biomarkers of ovarian cancer, cervical cancer and prostate cancer. In the past 10 years my laboratory has been continuously accredited by the College of American Pathologists for detection of systemic and mucosal biomarkers of immunity in a variety of clinical samples.