CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASES
The last 15 years have seen notable advances in the field of infectious diseases: smallpox was eradicated, and poliovirus is likely to follow, as are other preventable viral diseases. Unfortunately, threats like AIDS, Lyme disease, and exotic mosquito-borne diseases such as Kumjin/West Nile encephalitis have emerged, and new antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria have been discovered. In recent years, scientists have also discovered that a number of diseases formerly of uncertain origin, such as ulcers are, in fact, caused by infectious agents.
The Center for Infectious Diseases conducts basic and applied research on microbial pathogenesishow microbes cause disease and how the body fights off the infection. Strong research is being done in three areas.
At the Forefront of Lyme Disease Research
Stony Brook is ideally positioned to study Lyme disease. Not only is this disease most prevalent in the Long Island area, but the first isolation from patients of the spirochetal bacterium that causes Lyme disease, and the antibiotic regimen to combat it, were both achieved here. Scientists at the Center for Infectious Diseases are studying how this microbe interacts with the blood and other tissues of the patient to learn more about the way it spreads in the body, and how it causes diseases of the skin, heart, joints, and nervous system. The Center is also studying epidemiological and clinical features of Lyme and other local diseases carried by ticks and mosquitoes.
Fighting Intestinal and Urinary Tract Infections
Diarrheal diseases, such as those caused by gram negative bacteria, are a huge problem worldwide. They contribute to childhood mortality, and joined with urinary tract infections, they can lead to chronic debilitating conditions. Scientists at the Center for Infectious Diseases are at the forefront in the study of how these intestinal and urinary tract microbes interact with their hosts to cause disease. Much of the initial work that demonstrated evidence of crosstalk between these bacteria and the cells they invade was done here at Stony Brook. The Center is continuing to find ways to understand further the complex relationship between bacteria and their host cells; and to design new treatments and ways to prevent the diseases altogether.
Understanding and Combating New Infections
The Center for Infectious Diseases will collaborate with clinicians to carry out epidemiological and clinical studies that may speed up the time it takes for research discoveries to evolve into new therapeutics for diagnosis and treatment. Two emerging target areas of study are the use of known genetic systems of bacteria to find new ways to outsmart them and exploration of newfound relationships between infectious agents and diseases previously of uncertain origin.