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  1. NCTR Research Offices and Divisions

Division Director: Steven Foley, Ph.D.
Deputy Director: Vacant

Meet the Principal Investigators — Microbiology

About the Division


Serve a multipurpose function including evaluating the impact of antimicrobial agents, food contaminants, food additives, nanomaterials, and FDA-regulated products on the microbiome; developing methods to detect and characterize microbial contaminants; determining antimicrobial resistance and virulence mechanisms; conducting research to aid FDA in the areas of women's health, tobacco products, and nanotechnology; and improving risk assessments.

Studies of SARS-CoV-2 NSP1 and Envelope Protein

Watch the Recorded Presentation

2022 Select Accomplishments

Food Safety and Virology: Antimicrobial Resistance and Virulence

Microbiome and Biological Interactions

  • Continued studies on the of exposure of xenobiotic compounds, including arsenic, bisphenol AF, and triclosan on the microbiome and host responses through National Toxicological Program-funded efforts. These efforts are informing risk assessments of the test compounds (International Journal of Molecular Sciences).
  • Conducted in conjunction with the Office of Scientific Coordination, sequencing studies on multiple bacterial species that are underrepresented in microbial sequence databases. These sequences were made available in public databases and described in multiple Microbiology Resource Announcement publications (February 2022, April 2022, October 2022November 2022, November 2022).
  • Utilized transcriptomic analyses to assess the impact of continuous exposure to antibiotic-impregnated catheters on biofilm formation by the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  The formation of biofilms can lead to difficulty in eradicating the bacterial populations (Data).

Microbial Contaminants Detection

  • Developed and evaluated approaches to detect and enumerate Burkholderia cepacia complex (BCC) in pharmaceutical products. Improved and widely accessible detection methods for BCC are important to limit patient exposure to BCC pathogens that have been linked to multiple disease outbreaks (Microorganisms - April 2022 and June 2022). 
  • In conjunction with the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition conducted survey studies to assess the microbial contamination levels of tattoo and permanent makeup inks available on the U.S. market.  The studies determined that contamination of the ink products is a potential concern, as multiple inks were found to contain microorganisms (Microorganisms). 
  • Used sequencing methods to characterize diverse groups of Staphylococcus aureus pathogens associated with human infections (Microbiology Resource Announcements and Canadian Journal of Microbiology). 
  • Optimized and standardized methods for the production and purification of spore samples to be used in sporicidal efficacy assessment of compounded drug products (Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology).

2023 Select Research Projects

  • Evaluating a recombinant coronavirus spike protein to generate reagents, study cell interactions and antibody-dependent enhancement 

  • Discovering intracellular and extracellular signaling pathways and mechanisms contributing to complement activation and coagulopathies associated with coronavirus infections 

  • Assessing the role that the microbiome may play in the toxicity of xenobiotics 

  • Validating isolation and identification of nontuberculous Mycobacteria associated with tattoo-related skin infections in a multi-lab setting

  • Detecting microbial contaminants, including anaerobic bacteria, in tattoo inks and other related products

  • Establishing standardized methods for sporicidal efficacy assessment and building up an efficacy database of sporicidal products to support FDA’s regulation on drug compounding 

  • Evaluating antimicrobial, antibiofilm, and cytotoxicity activity of nanoparticles (Se, V) and nanostructured surfaces (Ti, Cu) and transcriptomic and proteomic response of multidrug resistant bacteria 

  • Evaluating tools to efficiently assess antimicrobial resistance and pathogenicity-related functions of plasmids in bacterial pathogens 

  • Evaluating in vitro vaginal tract models to assess the biotherapeutic potential of Lactobacillus toward Toxic Shock Syndrome Toxin-1 producing Staphylococcus aureus 

  • Metagenomic analyses to detect microorganisms in non-sterile pharmaceutical products

Resources for You

Contact Us

Contact Point
National Center for Toxicological Research
Food and Drug Administration
3900 NCTR Rd
Jefferson, AR 72079
Hours Available
(870) 543-7121

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