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  9. NCTR Division of Microbiology
  1. NCTR Research Offices and Divisions

NCTR Division of Microbiology

NCTR Division of Microbiology Word Cloud

Division Director: Carl Cerniglia, Ph.D.

Strategies to Meet Our Mission

Division Research Themes

The Division of Microbiology scientists engage in research addressing FDA issues with special emphasis on:

  • 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 in FDA-regulated products.
  • Determining antimicrobial resistance and virulence mechanisms of foodborne and other pathogens.
  • Conducting research to aid FDA in the areas of women's health, tobacco products, and nanotechnology.
  • Improving risk assessments of FDA-regulated products, including the integration of systems biology approaches.

2019 Select Accomplishments

Antimicrobial Resistance and Virulence Mechanisms

  • Established a database and an analysis tool to better understand and control Salmonella enterica in foods and feed. Publications available in International Journal of Food Microbiology and Microbiology Resource Announcements.
  • Developed and deployed matching algorithms to detect virulence genes from whole-genome sequence data.
  • Developed tools to allow the comparison of virulence gene profiles between different Salmonella strains.
  • Researched cell plasmids and their role in antimicrobial resistance to determine how plasmids contribute to increased virulence among S. enterica strains. Publications available in Microbial Transposon Mutagenesis and BMC Genomics.
  • Demonstrated that antimicrobial exposures can impact plasmid transfer dynamics in a dose-dependent fashion.
  • Characterized P. aeruginosa phenotypes when grown with antibiotic-coated catheters in a biofilm reactor and found them to have a higher growth rate, biofilm formation, and cell-invasion potential compared to controls.

Impact of Agents on the Human Microbiome

  • Found that higher concentrations of tetracycline and erythromycin could compromise intestinal barrier functions.
  • Studied the hypothesis that co-exposure to environmental pollutant, trichloroethylene, and a high-fat diet would exacerbate the immunotoxicity, gut inflammation, and microbial dysbiosis in offspring. Publications available in Journal of Applied Toxicology and Toxicological Sciences.
  • Used next-generation sequencing (NGS) to show commensal organism resistance to Clostridium difficile colonization in an intestinal microbiome cell culture model and to show a reduction in C. difficile toxicity as well as a reduction in inflammation in the presence of certain gut bacteria in an in vivo model.
  • Assessed the impact of smokeless tobacco products on members of the oral microbiome.
  • Completed a microbiological survey of 85 unopened tattoo and PMU inks, purchased from 13 companies available in the U.S. and almost half (49%) were contaminated with microorganisms, including some species that may be opportunistic pathogens.

2020 Select Research Projects

  • Assessment of the Role that the Microbiome May Play in the Toxicity of Xenobiotics
  • Studies on the Intrinsic Structural Multidrug Efflux Pump Mechanisms on Antimicrobial Resistant Salmonella enterica and Their Role in Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Detection of Microbial Contaminants in Tattoo inks
  • Interaction of Nanoparticles with Gastrointestinal Tract
  • Nonclinical Modeling and Risk Assessment of FDA-Regulated Drug-Nanocrystals
  • Comparative Study to Evaluate Molecular Assays and Culture-Based Reference Methods for the Detection of Toxigenic Clostridium difficile and to Evaluate Storage Conditions on the Recovery of C. difficile in Clinical Stool Specimens
  • Exploration of Fecal Transplant Mechanisms: Differential Pro-Inflammatory Responses of Intestinal Epithelial and Dendritic Cells to Clostridium difficile and Commensal Bacteria
  • Multi-Omics Approach to Identify an Antimicrobial Resistance Marker of Staphylococcus aureus Associated with Antimicrobial-Coated Medical Devices in a Biofilm Reactor
  • Using In Vitro Continuous Culture of the Human Intestinal Microbiota to Evaluate Risk Associated with Bacterial Pathogen Contamination of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation Samples
  • Comparative Methods Study for the Detection of Burkholderia cepacia Complex from Non-Sterile Pharmaceutical Products
  • The Effect of Nanomaterials Used in Dentistry on Biofilm Formation and the Oral Microbiota

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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