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Applied Research

Applied research at the Wadsworth Center encompasses a wide variety of highly collaborative activities.  Staff are committed to perform extensive research to develop and apply new methods and technologies to detect and characterize human diseases, environmental analytes, and infectious disease pathogens.  While focused on improving public health, this research often translates to clinical applications, which serve to fill gaps where commercial products and services are unavailable.  Some examples in infectious diseases include application of molecular methods to detect cases of botulism, tuberculosis, pertussis and HIV-2.  Clinical research is also aimed to improve methods for assessing genetic relatedness among microbes, which is essential to public health outbreak investigations and improving surveillance.  In Newborn Screening, a major focus is on refining existing methods or developing new methods to screen for additional conditions and to reduce the number of false positive results.  In environmental testing the focus is on expanding our capabilities in biomonitoring and to better detect new and existing contaminants.

Research Area Profile

  • Katherine T. Alben

    Katherine T. Alben, Ph.D.

    • Aquatic Chemistry

    We develop instrumental and computational methods of analysis to evaluate the accumulation of lipophilic carotenoids from the diet of biological organisms, and the removal of anthropogenic organic contaminants from drinking water.

  • Ellen B. Braun-Howland

    Ellen B. Braun-Howland, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Environmental Biology Laboratory

    We focus on the development and the validation of rapid, accurate methods for the detection of waterborne pathogens and their indicators.

  • Zhimin (Tim) Cao

    Zhimin (Tim) Cao, Ph.D.

    • Clinical Chemistry and Endocrinology

    We are interested in applying LC-MS/MS based methods for the analysis of hormones and vitamins for diagnostics and/or as biomarkers of physio-psychological disorders, and for assessing the accuracy of steroid hormone analysis.

  • Sudha Chaturvedi

    Sudha Chaturvedi, Ph.D.

    • Director, Mycology Laboratory

    We develop new technologies for fungal diagnostics and pathogenic mechanisms of Cryptococcus gattii and Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the etiologic agents of human cryptococcal meningitis and bat white nose syndrome, respectively.

  • April D. Davis, DVM, Ph.D.

    April D. Davis, DVM, Ph.D.

    • Rabies Laboratory

    We focus on developing and improving diagnostic tools for rabies. Additional research programs focus on studying rabies in bats within the laboratory and in field environments.

  • Christina Egan

    Christina Egan, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Biodefense Laboratory

    We focus on the development and validation of assays to detect pathogens and toxins associated with bioterrorism or food-borne disease. We utilize methods such as real-time PCR, whole genome sequencing, and mass spectrometry for rapid detection of agents.

  • Vincent Escuyer

    Vincent Escuyer, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Mycobacteriology Laboratory

    We are interested in the mechanisms underlying resistance of M. tuberculosis to major TB drugs and in the development and validation of molecular assays involving whole genome sequencing for rapid detection of drug resistant tuberculosis.

  •  Kurunthachalam Kannan

    Kurunthachalam Kannan, Ph.D.

    • Biomonitoring

    We focus on biomonitoring sources and pathways of human exposure to organic pollutants and their association with health outcomes, providing information for mitigating environmental burdens of diseases in humans.

  • Denise M. Kay

    Denise M. Kay, Ph.D.

    • Newborn Screening Program

    We use targeted and genome-wide approaches to identify and characterize mutations/genes involved in diseases affecting children, including conditions screened by the NYS newborn screening program and birth defects.

  • Susan Madison-Antenucci

    Susan Madison-Antenucci, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Parasitology Laboratory

  •  Kimberlee A. Musser

    Kimberlee A. Musser, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Bacteriology Laboratory

    We develop molecular diagnostic assays and reference testing for the detection and characterization of pathogenic bacteria and mycobacteria and to predict antibiotic resistance using real-time PCR and whole genome sequencing.

  • Joseph Orsini

    Joseph Orsini, Ph.D.

    • Newborn Screening Program

    We focus on simplifying and automating published low-volume newborn screening tests in order to transform them into high-volume assays.

  • Monica Parker, Ph.D.

    Monica Parker, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Bloodborne Viruses Laboratory

    We focus on developing laboratory methods to improve the diagnosis, management and surveillance of HIV and hepatitis C virus and evaluating genetic variation in these viruses.

  • Patrick J. Parsons

    Patrick J. Parsons, Ph.D.

    • Deputy Director of the Division of Environmental Health Sciences

    We study human exposure to toxic metals/metalloids (biomonitoring) and long-lived nuclides (radiobioassay); and develop novel speciation methods by coupling LC and GC to ICP-MS, while using portable XRF for field-based studies.

  • Robert Rej, Ph.D.

    Robert Rej, Ph.D.

    • Clinical Chemistry and Hematology

    The Clinical Chemistry and Hematology Section carries out appropriate proficiency testing of laboratories, evaluates performance and recommends corrective actions for raising performance levels to meet and exceed acceptable standards.

  • Kirsten St. George

    Kirsten St. George, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Virology Laboratory

    We develop viral detection and characterization assays and investigate new molecular chemistries and platforms. Research includes rhinovirus infection in transplant recipients, drug-resistant influenza and adenovirus evolution.

  • Derek Symula

    Derek Symula, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Wadsworth Center Proficiency Testing Program

    We study copy number variants (CNVs), which are widespread in the human genome and alter dosage of genes important in conditions ranging from HIV susceptibility to autism spectrum disorders. We seek to compile a catalog of CNVs and their frequencies.

  • Buu N. Tran, Ph.D.

    Buu N. Tran, Ph.D.

    • Organic and Analytical Chemistry Laboratory

    We develop analytical methods to identify unknown chemicals in foods and environmental samples including toxic compounds and chemical terrorism agents, thus providing national surveillance of the food supply.

  • Susan J. Wong

    Susan J. Wong, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Diagnostic Immunology Laboratory

    We develop assays for emerging zoonotic diseases, especially mosquito- or tick-borne infections. These assays are adapted for humans and animals to enable pathogenesis studies and surveillance.