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Michael Lorenz

Michael Lorenz

Regular Member


[email protected]
MSB 1.204

The University of Texas Health Science Center Houston
McGovern Medical School
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

The research in my laboratory is focused on fungi in the genus Candida. These organisms are common members of the human microbiome, but are also opportunistic pathogens that cause frequently fatal infections in hospitalized and other immunocompromised patients. We are usually protected from candidiasis by the innate immune system, especially the phagocytic cells. C. albicans, the most commonly isolated species, has a fascinating interaction with macrophages in which phagocytosis induces a remarkable morphological change from ovoid yeast cells to elongated fungal hyphae that exert enough force to rupture the mammalian membrane. We also study the emergent multi-drug resistant species C. auris, which has been responsible for numerous hospital outbreaks. Our goals are to understand Candida-host interactions at a molecular level to identify potential targets for the development of novel therapeutics or diagnostics. One such potential therapeutic arose from a second interest in the lab, which is the interaction of C. albicans with bacterial components of the microbiome. Through this, we identified a peptide secreted by the Gram-positive bacterium Enterococcus faecalis that potently inhibits virulence in a variety of infection models. We have isolated the antifungal activity to a small helix of just a few amino acids and continue to optimize this molecule and characterize its mechanism of action. Research in the lab spans microbiology, genetics, genomics, and immunology, giving students exposure to a wide variety of concepts and techniques. During the course of a thesis in my lab, students will be exposed to many different approaches including basic molecular biology and microbiology, genetic screens, gene knockouts, vertebrate and invertebrate animal virulence models, tissue culture, and microscopy. We also make use of genome-scale technologies for transcriptomics and cross-species analyses of the evolution of virulence traits. This provides students a solid grounding in modern molecular approaches to infectious disease


McGovern Medical School Faculty

Lorenz Lab

Education & Training

Ph.D. - Duke University - 1997

Research Info

Understanding the molecular basis of fungal infections