(Jay) Zhu, Ph.D.
Department of Microbiology
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
211A Johnson Pavilion
3610 Hamilton Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6076
Click here for the Zhu Lab Site
My laboratory is interested in how pathogenic bacteria sense
and respond to their surroundings. We study Vibrio cholerae, which
causes the acute diarrheal illness cholera, to determine the
various chemical signals that bacteria receive when infecting
the human intestinal tract, and how these signals are converted
into changes in gene expression. We have identified multiple
small molecules produced by the host that V. cholerae interprets
as a signal that it has entered the human intestines, and to
activate its virulence program. We have also identified the
role of quorum sensing, the use of small molecules by bacteria
as a marker of population growth, in regulating virulence and
biofilm production by V. cholerae. We are currently
also focused on how V. cholerae senses and responds
to oxidative and nitrosative stresses during infection. We
employ a variety of innovative genetic screens, biochemical
techniques, animal models, and deep sequencing to probe these
hypotheses. Last, we have begun applying our expertise with V.
cholerae to the study of Clostridium difficile,
an increasingly important cause of hospital-associated and
community-acquired diarrhea. We believe that our work will
shed light on importance of bacterial pathogen’s genetic
controls in the "hide-and-seek" game of host-pathogen
interactions, with the goal of better understanding V.
cholerae and C. difficile pathogenesis and, potentially,
discovering novel treatment options for the diarrheal diseases.