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Ron Limberger, Ph.D.

  • Ron Limberger

    Ron Limberger, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Division of Infectious Disease
    • Faculty Member, Wadsworth School of Laboratory Sciences

    • Ph.D., West Virginia Medical Center (1984)
    • Postdoctoral training: Stanford University
    • Postdoctoral training: New England Biolabs

  • Schematic diagram showing the spirochete flagellum.
    Schematic diagram showing the spirochete flagellum.

Research Interests

Spirochetes are a unique group of spiral-shaped bacteria. These include pathogenic spirochetes that are the causative agents of syphilis and Lyme disease as well as non-pathogenic species that are used as models to study pathogenic spirochetes. The laboratory's model organism, Treponema denticola is associated with periodontal disease. Earlier studies have focused on motility and structural genes because of their important role in the pathogenesis of spirochetes. Dr. Limberger's team participated in pioneering efforts to establish the role of key motility genes using a genetic approach. The team also utilized cryoelectron microscopy to establish the first detailed description of the native structure of T. denticola. More recently they established a collaboration to understand the role of non-heme iron-containing enzymes in determining the cellular response to oxidative and nitrosative stress. Knockout mutants of T. denticola that are deficient in potential stress response polypeptides were created using allelic exchange. These mutants are being analyzed for deficiencies in stress response mechanisms. Disruption of the ability of spirochetes to move, grow or tolerate aerobic stresses may prove to be an effective vaccine strategy.

Dr. Limberger's career at the Wadsworth Center has also involved extensive public health activities. During his tenure he directed both the Sexually Transmitted Disease Laboratory and the Bacteriology Laboratories as well as holding the administrative position of Laboratory Chief of Bacterial Diseases. Currently, as Director of Infectious Diseases, he is administratively involved in overseeing the activities of this Division as well continuing basic research studies.