Gonorrhea is the second in incidence among the reportable diseases in the United States and a significant source of morbidity and mortality in women due to the serious nature of ascended infection and its resultant complications. Gonorrhea also impacts neonatal health and is a co-factor in the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus. The rapid spread of antibiotic resistance seriously threatens current control measures and new treatments and a gonorrhea vaccine are needed.
As a pathogen, Gc is fascinating due to its many sophisticated adaptation mechanisms. The primary research interests of the Jerse laboratory are i.) animal modeling of Gc genital tract infections ii.) understanding the mechanisms utilized by Gc to evade host innate defenses in the female genital tract; iii.) studying the in vivo fitness costs and benefits of antibiotic resistance mutations. A second focus is the development of gonorrhea vaccines against surface factors known to play a role in infection and the pre-clinical testing of vaginal microbicides and antibiotics against gonorrhea. We also developed of a female mouse model of Gc and chlamydial coinfection for pathogenesis studies and to facilitate the development of dual therapies against these two common STI pathogens.