Erin Norcross, Ph.D.
Streptococcus pneumoniae, pneumococcus, is an important worldwide pathogen. It is responsible for a variety of diseases including pneumonia, meningitis, bacteremia, and otitis media. Additionally, it is a key ocular pathogen capable of causing endophthalmitis, keratitis, and conjunctivitis. Traditionally, pneumococcal infections affect primarily elderly individuals or young children due to their weakened immune system; however, pneumococcal eye disease can affect people of all ages. S. pneumoniae possesses a variety of virulence factors including a polysaccharide capsule, pneumolysin (PLY), and neuraminidases (Nan) that enable this pathogen to cause disease. I am interesting in better understanding the role of these important virulence factors and how they interact with host immune responses.