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Our Mission
The Carruthers lab leverages the exceptional research environment at the University of Michigan to advance the understanding of microbial pathogenesis, using the Toxoplasma gondii infection model. Similar to other infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii causes acute disease that then enters a persistent, long term infection capable of reactivating to cause severe pathology and potentially death. Understanding the functions of key parasite gene products that contribute to pathogenesis during the acute and reactivated phases along with proteins required for persistent infection is crucial for the rationale design of novel interventions. We identify important gene products using screening or bioinformatic approaches, interrogate their functions via genetic, cell biological, biochemical and imaging strategies and develop novel inhibitors to target specific products that contribute to infection. Measuring the host response to Toxoplasma infection also provides crucial insight into the impact of infection along with effective and ineffective components of the host immune response. Exciting new insight into how this parasite promiscuously infects its hosts, obtains essential resources, evades host immunity and causes pathology is emerging from these collective efforts.