Tag Along Funds Allow Researchers to Present Findings at Bordetella Symposium in Ireland

Posted: April 7, 2014

Graduate students Laura Goodfield, Sarah Muse, and Liron Bendor share their research with the international community and make connections during 10th Annual International Symposium on Bordetella.
Goodfield and Muse visit the Cliffs of Moher, along the Atlantic coast of Ireland, during a spare moment in their travels.

Goodfield and Muse visit the Cliffs of Moher, along the Atlantic coast of Ireland, during a spare moment in their travels.



This past fall, Laura Goodfield and Sarah Muse, doctoral candidates in Dr. Eric Harvill’s lab (Muse also is a graduate fellow), presented their research at the 10th Annual International Symposium on Bordetella at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute in Dublin, Ireland.

Goodfield and Muse received Tag Along travel grants from the College of Agricultural Sciences for this opportunity. The Tag Along Fund Program supports faculty members who are working on international activities and are willing to bring others with them. It covers travel expenses for the persons “tagging along.” Awards are based on the merit of the faculty member’s proposal; in this instance, Dr. Harvill’s.

Dr. Harvill’s lab studies host-pathogen interactions using highly contagious, classical Bordetellae bacteria: B. pertussis, B. parapertussis, and B. bronchiseptica. The first two bacteria are responsible for the symptoms attributed to whooping cough in humans. The last bacterium, B. bronchiseptica, is a respiratory pathogen that infects all mammals, ranging from humans to dogs (kennel cough) to rabbits (snuffles). This species of bacterium is responsible for the majority of the agricultural funds lost due to respiratory infection.

“Attending this symposium allowed us to strengthen our collaborations with the CDC and FDA, and we have made new connections that will help us investigate why the bacteria are changing, and how we can better protect infants from getting severe whooping cough. We also forged new collaborations that will positively influence our work on bacterial virulence factors,” states Muse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “following the introduction of pertussis vaccines in the 1940s, when case counts frequently exceeded 100,000 cases per year, reports declined dramatically to fewer than 10,000 by 1965. During the 1980s, pertussis reports began increasing gradually, and by 2012 more than 48,000 cases were reported nationwide, the most since 1955.”1

At the symposium, Goodfield presented her research with a poster entitled, “Analysis of Recent B. pertussis Outbreak Strains and Efficiency of Current Vaccines;” and Muse presented her research with a poster entitled, “The Effect of Caspase-1 on B. bronchiseptica Type VI Secretion System Mediated Virulence.” Also at the symposium was fellow Harvill lab graduate student Liron Bendor, who presented her research with the poster, “Investigating the Role of the T6SS in B. bronchiseptica Intracellular Survival.”

 “During the conference, we confirmed that our collection of B. pertussis outbreak strains is representative of the isolates collected across the country, and that the genetic changes we see are consistent across the world. Countries such as Argentina, France, and the Netherlands have seen similar genetic changes,” explained Goodfield.

“We also learned a great deal from the vaccine perspectives given by the FDA, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and vaccine companies,” she added. “Researchers continue to try finding ways to improve the current vaccines. Additionally, we learned about ongoing clinical trials that are studying the effects of maternal vaccination.” Sarah Goodfield, Liron Bendor and Sarah Muse head to the Cliffs of Moher.

While in Ireland, they met with some of their research collaborators: Pamela Cassiday and Maria-Lucia Tondella, microbiologists from the CDC; Dr. Andrew Preston, Senior Lecturer in the School of Veterinary Sciences, from the University of Bristol, UK; Dr. Tod Merkel, Principal Investigator from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Dr. Rachel Fernandez, Associate Professor in Microbiology & Immunology from the University of British Columbia.

Goodfield and Muse would like to express their appreciation to the College of Ag for their Tag Along Funds; and all three students are thankful for the travel grants received from their respective graduate programs (Goodfield, IID; Muse, BMMB; and Bendor, Genetics) to help offset the cost of this international trip.