Jennifer Bomberger, PhD, received the “Young Investigator Basic Science Award” at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference in Baltimore, Md., on October 23 for her presentation, “Pseudomonas aeruginosa Reduces the Viral Immune Response in Cystic Fibrosis Bronchial Epithelial Cells.” A fellow in the Dartmouth Lung Biology Center, Bomberger’s research points to the possibility that a toxin released by P. aeruginosa severely compromises the immune defenses in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients.
Jennifer Bomberger at the Cystic Fibrosis Conference with, from left to right: Raymond Pickles, Christopher Penland, Steven Rowe, and Jonathan Cohn. (photo by Cynthia Adams, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation)
“This is the first bacterial toxin that inhibits the viral immune response of the host, potentially illuminating a mechanism for the clinical observation that viral-bacterial co-infections dramatically increase the morbidity of cystic fibrosis patients chronically colonized by P. aeruginosa,” explains Bomberger, whose research is conducted in Dartmouth Medical School Professor Bruce A. Stanton’s laboratory. Bomberger says she hopes “to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanism whereby P. aeruginosa and respiratory viruses synergize to cause lung disease and, ultimately, identify new therapeutic approaches to control combined P. aeruginosa and respiratory virus infections.”