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  • Francis Eko, Ph.D.

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  • Francis Eko, Ph.D.
      Research Assistant Professor, Department of MBI


    Contact Information

    Phone: (404) 752-1584
    Fax: (404) 752-1179
    Email: feko@msm.edu

    Education
    B.S., University of Calabar, Nigeria (Microbiology)
    M.S., University of Calabar, Nigeria (Medical Microbiology)
    Ph.D., University of Vienna, Austria (Molecular Microbiology)

    Research Interests
    Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are of major medical and social importance worldwide, resulting in debilitating or life-threatening consequences. Genital infections caused by chlamydia trachomatis and Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) rank among the highest STDs in the world. The frequent asymptomatic infections due to Chlamydia cause severe irreversible complications in women, including pelvic inflammatory disease, fallopian tube scarring, ectopic pregnancy and infertility. C. trachomatis is also the etiologic agent of trachoma, the world's most common preventable blinding disease. Major complications of genital herpes include neonatal herpes, encephalitis and neurological disorders. There are concerns that these diseases, like AIDS and gonococcal disease, may pose a serious threat to human reproduction and well-being. The public health significance of these STDs is therefore enormous and the current medical opinion is that an efficacious vaccine offers the best approach to protect the greatest number of people from these infections and their sequelae.

    Our laboratory is focused on designing/developing candidate vaccines against chlamydia and HSV-2 based on the novel recombinant Vibrio cholerae ghost (rVCG) platform technology. We have constructed a novel recombinant bacterial ghost delivery system which has inherent adjuvant properties and capable of simultaneously delivering multiple antigens from the same or different pathogens to the immune system. The murine model of genital infection is a reliable experimental system for studying the immunobiology of chlamydia and HSV-2 and for evaluating vaccine efficacy. The central tenet evolving from this model is that control of infection correlates with the presence of a strong Thl response that provides IFN- required for inhibition of pathogen replication.

    In collaboration with Dr. J. K. Stiles, we are also using the rVCG platform to design a candidate vaccine against African trypanosomiasis based on the plasma membrane-type Ca2+-ATPases, which are essential in calcium ion homeostasis.

    Another project underway in our lab is the use of comparative proteomics to map protective T and B cell epitopes across chlamydial serovars.

    Click here to view selected publications.