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Center for Infectious Diseases and Immunology



Our Laboratory is focused on the goal of intervening in the disease process of nasopharyngeal colonization by respiratory bacterial pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae, Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae and Moraxella catarrhalis.


We Study:

Bacterial Interactions:

Clearly the pathogens must colonize the NP and become the dominant organism.  To be dominant they must out - compete other normal flora and other  potential  bacterial pathogens.  So can we intervene in the pathogenesis of a respiratory bacterial pathogen gaining dominance and an increased inoculum?  Are the potential pathogens working together as co-pathogens? If the normal flora maintains dominance then AOM, sinusitis, pneumonia and bronchitis would be prevented.


Viral Interaction:

Nearly always an AOM, sinusitis, pneumonia or bronchitis is preceded by a viral URI. We know the viral URI promotes up-regulation  of NP epithelial cell receptors, down-regulates innate and adaptive immune responses, increases  viscosity of nasal mucus and damages NP cells thereby exposing additional receptors for respiratory pathogens to utilize. Can we intervene in this pathogenic process?


Adaptive Immunity:

When enough antibody is available on the NP mucosa (by transudation from serum) that is directed to appropriate target antigens that are surface-exposed on a respiratory pathogen, then attachment of the pathogen can be prevented.  We need to know how much antibody is needed and to which specific antigens for each of our target respiratory pathogens.

What is the role of cellular immunity? Th1, Th2, Th17, T reg, T memory, B memory. Is there a subgroup of individuals where cellular immunity is more important?


Innate Immunity:

The innate response, particularly in the NP, may vary among human hosts.  Cytokines, chemokines, complement, neutrophils are released and mobilized in response to colonization and infection. Success of the innate response may predict the need for an adaptive response to clear colonization and infection.



Do biofilms form in the NP or middle ear or bronchi? If so, does this occur in a subpopulation or all individuals who become colonized or infected with the respiratory bacterial pathogens under study? If so, how can we intervene in biofilm formation?

Current Research Highlights

Human and mouse Immunology: PCR, qPCR, RT-PCR, FACS, CyTOF, Elispot, ELISA, Functional assays (bactericidal, anti-adherence), cell culture

Gene cloning, protein purification and characterization for vaccine development 

Bacterial genetics: Whole genome sequencing, virulence determinants, pathogenesis

Mouse Models: Sepsis, pneumonia, otitis media, nasopharyngeal colonization, protection, correlates of protection,

Infectious disease pathogenesis and immune mechanistic investigations


View more current research and highlights

image of a group of Gram-positive, Corynebacterium diphtheriae, bacteria

Meet Our Researchers

Student Summer Research Experiences

Learn about student summer research experiences in the Rochester General Hospital Research Institute.


Learn About Our Summer Research Experiences

Our Highlighted Publications

  • A Phase III Evaluation of Immunogenicity and Safety of Two Trivalent Inactivated Seasonal Influenza Vaccines in US Children.

    Baxter R, Jeanfreau R, Block SL, Blatter M, Pichichero ME, et al.

    DOI: 10.1097/INF.0b013e3181e075be
  • Simultaneous Assay for Four Bacterial Species Including Alloiococcus otitidis Using Multiplex-PCR in Children with Culture Negative Acute Otitis Media.

    Kaur R, Adlowitz DG, Casey JR, Zeng M, Pichichero ME.

    DOI: 10.1097/INF.0b013e3181d9e639
  • New Patterns in the otopathogens causing acute otitis media six to eight years after introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.

    Casey JR, Adlowitz DG, Pichichero ME.

  • Serum Intercellular Adhesion Molecule 1 Variations in Young Children with Acute Otitis Media. 

    Liu K, Casey JR, Pichichero ME.

    DOI: 10.1128/CVI.00194-10
  • Higher serum levels of interleukin 10 occur at onset of acute otitis media caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae compared to Haemophilus influenzae and Moraxella catarrhalis.

    Liu K, Almudevar A and Pichichero ME.

    DOI: 10.1002/lary.23973
  • Modeling Specific Antibody Responses to Natural Immunization to Predict a Correlate of Protection against Infection before Commencing a Clinical Vaccine Trial. 

    Pichichero ME and Almeduvar A.

    DOI: 10.1080/21645515.2017.1329064