The Francis laboratory has a strong interest in understanding the physiology and pathogenesis of bacteria.
The research seeks to understand mechanisms through which bacteria preserve biological function when exposed to toxic environments to ensure their continued growth and survival. In doing so, the research of the Francis laboratory has identified a stress-responsive regulatory network that functions as a switch to enable bacteria to adjust their physiological state according to the prevailing environment. The research also seeks to define interactions at the molecular level that are required for a bacterial pathogen to avoid being killed by host immune cells, despite being engaged physically with these cells in close combat. This has seen the Francis laboratory, together with key collaborators, make important contributions that benefit understanding of protein secretion in bacteria.
This knowledge may eventually identify processes so crucial to bacterial survival inside and outside of a host that it becomes their ’Achilles heel’. This offers hope that through chemical disruption of these specific mechanisms, it might be possible to develop new categories of effective anti-bacterial drugs to improve the health prospects of many individuals worldwide.