Anthony Maurelli, Ph.D., a Professor in the Department of Environmental and Global Health, delivered a keynote address at the 62nd Annual Wind River Conference on Prokaryotic Biology in Estes Park, CO on June 14, 2018. This international meeting highlights research investigating the biology and pathology of prokaryotic and lower eukaryotic organisms.
Dr. Maurelli’s presentation was entitled “A Brief History of Shigella”. The history of Shigella, the causative agent of bacillary dysentery, is a long and fascinating one.
Dr. Maurelli’s historical account covered descriptions of the disease and its impact on human health from ancient time to the present. It followed the scientific discoveries and principal scientists who contributed to the elucidation of Shigella pathogenesis in the first 100 years since identification of the dysentery bacillus by Kiyoshi Shiga in 1898.
Natasha Weatherspoon-Griffin, a Post-Doctoral Associate in Dr. Maurelli’s lab, also attended the Wind River Conference on a travel grant. Dr. Weatherspoon-Griffin gave an oral presentation about her ongoing characterization of recently emerged Shiga toxin-producing Shigella flexneri strains that have epidemiological links the island of Hispañola.
These strains pose a threat to public health since Shiga-toxin producing bacteria have been directly associated with bloody diarrhea and hemolytic uremic syndrome, a severe and life-threatening kidney damaging sequela. Dr. Weatherspoon-Griffin’s work demonstrated that while high iron conditions prevent Shiga toxin production in traditional Shiga toxin-producing bacteria, these recently emerged strains have mechanistically lost this iron response and, consequently, continuously produce Shiga toxin. This gives rise to speculation that these newly emerged strains will pose a serious problem to public health.
Congratulations to both Dr. Maurelli and Dr. Weatherspoon-Griffin for sharing their findings on an international stage.