Morgan Timm

Program: Immunology

Current advisor: Scott J. Hultgren, PhD

Undergraduate university: Gustavus Adolphus College

Research summary
Urinary tract infections (UTI) drive over 15% of all antibiotic prescriptions and directly contribute to the development of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. One potential antibiotic-sparing therapeutic for UTIs is monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), which have been successfully deployed for decades and have a strong history of safety and efficacy. My project aims to develop mAbs to two types of UTIs that greatly contribute to global disease burden. First, I am exploring mAbs as a treatment for catheter-associated UTI (CAUTI) caused by two pathogens that are frequently multi-drug resistant: Enterococcus faecalis and Acinetobacter baumannii. These bacteria cause CAUTI by using sticky adhesins to bind to fibrinogen deposited on the surface of urinary catheters. mAbs will block this interaction to prevent catheter colonization. I am also investigating mAbs for their ability to block bacterial interaction with host tissue. Uropathogenic Escheriscia coli (UPEC) frequently causes highly recurrent UTI (rUTI) in part by establishing reservoirs in the gastrointestinal tract and vagina that serve as a source for UPEC’s continuous reintroduction into the bladder lumen. While the adhesins responsible for gut colonization have been characterized, the adhesin responsible for vaginal colonization is unknown. Based on existing data suggesting a role for the UPEC S pilus in the vagina, I am investigating the contribution of this pilus to vaginal colonization. I will then generate mAbs to the S pilus adhesin and test them for their ability to deplete UPEC from the vagina. The long-term goal of my work is to generate mAbs that can treat human urinary tract infections.

Graduate publications


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