Dr. Michael C. Lorenz
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 Candida albicans, the most important fungal pathogen of humans. There are many manifestations of candidiasis, including oral, vaginal and skin infections, but we are mostly concerned with disseminated candidiasis, an infection of the blood and organs, which primarily affects immunocompromised patients and is frequently fatal. While most infections are acquired from environmental exposure, C. albicans is a natural part of the human microbiota, so patients get these infections from themselves. We are usually protected from candidiasis by the innate immune system, and the central theme of our research is to understand the very complex interactions between mammalian immune cells and C. albicans. We are currently focused on how C. albicans modulates immune cell function to promote survival and dissemination.
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, genetic screens, gene knockouts, animal virulence models, tissue culture, transfection and transformation, and microscopy. We also make use of genome-scale technologies for transcriptomics and cross-species analyses of the evolution of virulence traits. We also interact with a rich fungal research community in the TMC and beyond. This provides students a solid grounding in modern molecular approaches to infectious disease.