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Tawanna Childs


Chlamydia trachomatis is the #1 bacterial sexually transmitted disease in the world with an estimated 90 million cases each year [1]. Of those infected nearly 80% are asymptomatic and often lead to severe sequalea inculding pelvic inflammatory diesase, ectopic pregnancy and infertility [2,3].


Gas vesicles of Halobacteria sp. are hollow, proteinacious structures that usually have the form of a football-like structure closed by conical end caps. Gas vesicles occur in five phyla of the Bacteria and two groups of the Archaea, but they are mostly restricted to planktonic microorganisms, in which they provide buoyancy. By regulating their relative gas vesicle content aquatic microbes are able to perform vertical migrations in the water column.


Current Research

I'm looking at the ability of gas vesicles to display chlamydial peptides and they efficacy as a delivery platform.  Using the information presented in the literature, peptides of immunologic importance were cloned and then expressed on the surface of halobacterial gas vesicles.  The foot-ball shaped protein structure is able to displa a host of chlamydial peptides in excess of 250 amino acids.  In-vitro studies to evaluate entry and degradation have been performed in tissue culture cells. 


[1] CDC & PHS. Chlamydia trachomatis genital infections - United States, 1995. Morbid Mortal Wkly Rep 1997;46:193-8
[2] Paavonen J, Wolner-Hassen P. Chlamydia trachomatis: a major threat to reproduction. J Hum Reprod 1989;4:111-24
[3] Schachter J. Grayston JT. Epidemiology of human chlamydial infections. In: Stamm WE, editor. chalmydial infections. San Francisco/Berkeley, CA; 1998. p 3-10


American Society for Microbiology (ASM)

Society for the Advacement of Hispanics/Chicanos & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)


Northeast Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate Internship [2006-2007]

Northeast Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate Fellowship [2007-2008]

ASM Robert D. Watkins Graduate Research Fellowship [2009-20012]

Professional Developement

ASM Kadner Institute [Summer 2011]