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Catherine Loc-Carrillo

Title: Research Assistant Professor
College: Medicine
School / Department: Internal Medicine
Mentoring Philosophy:

My goal is to conduct well-controlled, impartial research to investigate the possibilities of applying bacteriophages as biocontrol agents to clinically problematic infections, with particular emphasis on antibiotics resistant bacteria.  My research for the past 10 years has involved looking at how phages can be applied for the reduction and eradication of problematic bacteria.  This experience has helped me have a better understanding of some of the issues seen with the application of phages in various situations and how best to solve these problems.  My experience in industry has also provided me with an insight into how to develop products that comply with regulatory guidelines, as well as experience in overseeing multiple projects, managing a team of scientists and meeting deadlines.  I returned to academia because of my desire to do basic research on the clinical application of bacteriophages as therapeutic agents and to teach undergraduate students how to become good research scientists.

My long-term goals lie in gaining a better understanding of the microbial parameters necessary to cause infection and practical ways to diagnose and treat them.  I am particularly interested in investigating what happens during the transition of acute infection into chronic osteomyelitis.  The rat model we develop could be used for this research.  There are no current definitive diagnostic measures of differentiating between acute and chronic bone infections, and the importance in differentiating between the two stages would affect the type of treatment regime used to treat the infection.  Chronic osteomyelitis generally requires surgical intervention and prolonged antibiotic treatment due to the refractory characteristics of biofilms forming within the infected bone, and it could prove advantageous to determine if an infection has developed into it’s chronic stage as the appropriate intervention strategies can be used as early as possible.  If the phage therapy does not prove efficacious in treating osteomyelitis, I would be interested in seeking other alternative therapeutics that could be used in conjunction with or as alternative to antibiotics, which appear to now have a very finite life span before their use becomes obsolete due to the rapid development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. I would also be interested in looking at how infection could cause delayed healing of (nonunion) bone fractures and identify ways to reduce their occurrence.My interests in pursuing a research career dedicated in understanding osteomyelitis, particularly the diagnostics and therapeutic aspects is spurred on by the high rates of infection (5-33%) seen in patients with open fractures, along with lower rates (0.7-4.2%), yet still devastating complications resulting from, elective orthopaedic surgery that lead to prolonged hospitalization, poor functional outcome and sepsis.