Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Epidemiology

Nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections represent a serious public health threat costing, on average, an additional $2 billion in health care expenditures per year. Research activities in our section are focused on detecting and understanding clinically important pathogens.

Clinical and epidemiologic research

Our clinical research activities are primarily aimed at developing new techniques and assays that can more rapidly identify clinically relevant pathogens. By decreasing the time to detection of infectious microorganisms, we can provide clinicians with vital information that can affect treatment decisions and improve patient outcomes.

The epidemiology aspect of our research is dedicated to identifying risk factors that lead to the development of certain infections, primarily those that are multi-drug resistant organisms.

Research facilities and resources

Rush University Medical Center has established an extensive array of resources to promote research and scholarly activities. As a large, tertiary care, academic medical center in Chicago, we have access to extensive blood/tissue samples in our clinical laboratories that can be used retrospectively, many of which have robust clinical metadata.

Our Division of Clinical Microbiology within Rush Medical Laboratories has a long history of supporting clinical and epidemiologic research. The 30,000-square foot laboratory has equipment and facilities needed for standard and specialized microbiologic testing, including BSL2+ and BSL3 labs. The lab offers conventional culture-based methods for routine identification of pathogenic bacteria, yeast, molds and mycobacteriology. There are dedicated and separate areas for clean reagent preparation, nucleic acid extraction, amplification and post-amplification analysis.

Major laboratory equipment includes biological safety cabinets, ambient air and CO2 incubators, refrigerators, ultralow freezers and the MicroScan WalkAway 96 plus system for bacterial identification and automated antimicrobial susceptibility testing. Other major equipment includes an automated nucleic acid extractor (easyMAG, bioMerieux), conventional and real-time polymerase chain reaction systems, two DNA sequence analyzers (ABI PRISM) and a CHEF Mapper system (Bio-Rad).

The laboratory is certified by the College of American Pathologists and led by a physician-scientist who is board certified in infectious diseases.

Research opportunities

The Department of Medical Laboratory Science has opportunities for graduate medical laboratory science students to conduct clinical research projects related to clinically relevant infectious microorganisms. If interested, please contact Nicholas Moore.