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Investigators and Program Directors

William Wolfgang

William Wolfgang

Research Scientist, Wadsworth Center,
Bacterial Diseases

Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle WA
Postdoctoral training, University of California at Berkeley

E-mail: wwolfgan@wadsworth.org

 

Research Interests

Discovering, accurately describing, and curating new species of bacteria is of central importance to the field of bacteriology. Deposition of this information in databases and the associated live bacteria into culture collections, that are freely available, permits rapid and effective investigation of new clinical threats. Remarkably, every year approximately 600 new species of bacteria are described in published articles and deposited in culture collections. Of these, only about 20 are from patients. In our role as a reference lab, we receive many clinical bacterial isolates each year that, despite investigation by molecular DNA diagnostics and other advanced tests, remain unidentified. Based on this experience, we believe there exists many more undiscovered bacteria that cause human disease.

In my group some of these unidentified disease associated bacteria are being described and curated to provide a more complete catalogue and understanding of the scope bacterial pathogens. We have developed a protocol that allows us to rapidly identify samples from different patients that contain the same unknown bacterium. Once we have multiple isolates of a potentially new bacterial species, we characterize it by both DNA-based and conventional methods. From these analyses we determine the phylogenetic relationship of our unknown bacteria to existing taxa to determine whether or not it represents a new species. We then name our new bacterium. The data are made public and the bacterium is deposited in two culture collections to conform to International rules for the description of new bacterial species. Currently we are describing new species of Neisseria, Psychrobacter, Sporosarcina, and a new genus in the family Thermoactinomycetaceae.

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Contact Information

E-mail: wwolfgan@wadsworth.org