Professor Ojcius uses molecular and cell biological techniques to characterize interactions between epithelial cells and intracellular pathogens. He studies the bacteria, Chlamydia, as a model system because its species represent the world's leading cause of preventable blindness, and are a common cause of respiratory and sexually-transmitted infections in humans.
His current projects are focused on how the bacteria modify signal-transduction pathways that affect programmed cell death (apoptosis) and metabolism of the host cell. Whenever possible, the physiological relevance of results obtained with cell lines are tested in a mouse model of infection. Specifically, his group is investigating:
- Whether host-cell death plays a role in propagation of the infection
- How molecules released from dying infected-cells are recognized by the host immune system
- Effect of infection on metabolism of the host cell