Brenda Anne Wilson, PhD, Professor, Department of Microbiology, School of Molecular & Cellular Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA.
Dr. Wilson is Professor of Microbiology in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She gained her B.A. degree in Biochemistry and German from Barnard College, Columbia University, New York in 1981. She then studied biochemistry for a year through a DAAD fellowship at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität in München, Germany. She received her Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where she received the Ernest M. Marks Achievement Award and an AAUW doctoral fellowship to study the biosynthesis of β-lactam antibiotics. Dr. Wilson then undertook her postdoctoral training in microbiology through an NIH fellowship at Harvard Medical School, where she began her studies on bacterial protein toxins. Her first faculty appointment in 1993 was in the Department of Biochemistry at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Wilson joined the Department of Microbiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1999. Dr. Wilson has published over 70 peer-reviewed papers. She is on the editorial board of several journals and has reviewed manuscripts and books for over 30 scientific journals and publishers on an ad hoc basis. She has served as a standing member of numerous NIH, USDA, NSF and DTRA grant review panels, as well as bioterrorism and emerging infectious disease special emphasis panels. She has organized and/or convened numerous regional, national and international scientific meetings and workshops on toxins, infectious diseases and microbial pathogenesis.
Dr. Wilson’s research involves studying the molecular interactions and biochemical mechanisms by which protein toxins produced by pathogenic bacteria cause their toxic effects on mammalian cells. One NIH-sponsored project involves studying the structure, function and pathogenic mechanisms of the potent dermonecrotic toxins produced by Pasteurella multocida, Bordetella sp., E. coli and Yersinia. The laboratory is interested in understanding how the toxins can be used as potent selective cell biology tools for studying signal transduction pathways and physiological processes within cells. A major goal of another NIH-sponsored translational biomedical research project is to design and develop novel post-exposure anti-toxin therapeutics against botulinum neurotoxins, for which there are currently no effective antidotes, as well as highly sensitive, high-throughput detection assays for distinguishing among botulinum neurotoxins. Finally, Dr. Wilson and her colleagues are exploiting comparative and functional genomic technologies to study the dynamic interactions between the host and its commensal as well as pathogenic microbes, i.e. microbial ecology in the host environment. A central goal is to elucidate pathogenic mechanisms of vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis and the role of normal and abnormal microbiota in disease susceptibility and progression, in particular for identification of early discriminatory microbial and/or metabolite biomarkers indicative of vaginal health during pregnancy, including potential indicators of risk for spontaneous preterm birth.
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