MRSA Research Center

The University of Chicago Medicine






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For Clinical Researchers – About Our Clinical Research

Our goal is to understand the roots of the MRSA epidemic and develop preventative and treatment measures to block the spread of this dangerous pathogen from person to person.

The MRSA Research Center is engaged in a variety of clinical research activities in the Chicago area and around the world. Our research takes us from the shower floor in a jail cell in Texas and from the bedside of patients in our neonatal ICU to the cutting edge of bacterial genomics at the University of Chicago Medical Center and at other institutions. 

We are engaging with large administrative database providers and collaborators in a variety of medical fields in many states and countries to delineate the changing epidemiology of CA-MRSA, from the early 1990s up to the present day. Our projects will provide a window into the shifting epidemiology of MRSA—both molecular and clinical—in the community and in health care settings.

There are many unanswered questions about MRSA, particularly in the community.  For example:

  • Who is at highest risk of MRSA carriage?
  • What are the risk factors for the transmission of MRSA and for new colonization in households, gymnasiums, jails, prisons, barracks, or schools?
  • How important is prior asymptomatic colonization as a risk factor for clinically significant infection?
  • How significant is geographic variation in asymptomatic MRSA colonization rates in the United States?
  • How can we quantify the number of MRSA infections occurring in the country?
  • How can we define community-associated and health-care-associated MRSA infections so that they are clinically and epidemiologically useful terms, or alternatively, should these terms be abandoned?
  • Who is at risk for severe MRSA infections?
  • How can these infections optimally be prevented or treated?
  • How did bacterial genetic characteristics and human behavioral or demographic characteristics interact to result in the current epidemic of MRSA infections?
  • Why are different MRSA clonotypes (all carrying the genes for the Panton-Valentine leukocidin and the SCCmec IV or V element and usually broadly susceptible to non-beta-lactam antibiotics) more likely to predominate in different parts of the world?
  • Why is USA300 now the predominant clonotype of CA-MRSA in the U.S.?

We perform studies in many settings to investigate these and other questions.

Michael Z. David, MS, MD, PhD
Instructor, Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine
MRSA Research Center
University of Chicago Medical Center