MRSA Research Center

The University of Chicago Medicine

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For Laboratory Researchers – About Our Lab Research

Our Laboratory Science Research Program is furthering our understanding of the biology of MRSA to enable the design of new strategies for future therapy and vaccine development.

The links on this page will introduce you to the two arms of the MRSA Research Center Laboratory—1) clinical trials support and 2) basic science discovery—that synergize to help defeat the epidemic of MRSA infection.  To describe our contributions in general terms, we are:

  • Contributing to the knowledge of how community-associated methicillin-resistant Staph aureus (MRSA) emerged from methicillin-susceptible Staph aureus (MSSA).
  • Revealing how these new MRSA strains are evolving on a real-time basis.
  • Elucidating the strategies by which MRSA evade antimicrobials at the molecular level.

The MRSA Research Center Laboratory is also the site where we train new medical research scientists as they launch their careers dedicated to the study and eradication of MRSA.

Recent activities at the MRSA Research Center Laboratory

  • We recognized the emergence of new strains of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staph aureus (CA-MRSA) since the mid-1990s.
  • We identified novel genetic markers in CA-MRSA that can be used to track their spread in the community and distinguish them from healthcare-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA).
  • We supported and are supporting clinical trials by performing microbiological procedures to isolate and identify MRSA from trial subjects.
  • We are performing routine surveillance of MRSA around the globe and at the University of Chicago Medical Center to monitor changing trends in antimicrobial resistance and strain predominance.
  • We validated MRSA screening kits using our well-characterized strains of MRSA.
  • We are identifying gene expression patterns among various MRSA strains to identify bacterial factors that contribute to bacterial invasion and virulence.
  • We are studying host immune responses to MRSA infection in animal models of infection.
  • We are elucidating the mechanisms by which Staph aureus responds to and eludes the inhibitory effects of antimicrobials.

Susan Boyle-Vavra, PhD
Research Associate
Lab Director
MRSA Research Center
University of Chicago Medical Center