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  1. Science & Research (NCTR)

Bruce Erickson Ph.D.

Senior Staff Fellow — Division of Microbiology

Bruce Erickson
Bruce Erickson, Ph.D.

(870) 543-7121

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 About  |  Publications


Dr. Erickson received a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from Ohio University in 1981. He earned a master’s degree in 1984 and a doctoral degree in 1990 in molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His graduate work involved analyzing the regulation of transcription in E. coli and Salmonella. Dr. Erickson then did postdoctoral research at General Electric Corporate Research and Development in Niskayuna, New York on the biodegradation of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), characterizing the bacterial enzymes involved in aerobic degradation of PCBs and enhancing this degradation through site-directed mutagenesis. He joined the Division of Microbiology at NCTR in 1994, and has worked on a wide range of projects including:

  • methods development for testing the tuberculocidal activity of liquid chemical germicides for medical devices
  • risk assessment associated with residue levels of antimicrobials in foods
  • metabolism of antibiotics by the intestinal bacteria
  • how xenobiotic compounds and dietary factors can impact the bacterial populations that comprise the intestinal microbiota.

His current research includes the use of in vitro systems that model the human intestinal tract to evaluate risk factors associated with fecal microbiota transplantation.

Research Interests

Researchers and clinicians have known for decades that the human body harbors a complex bacterial population, and that the composition and complexity of this population varies with the area of the body (skin, oral, vaginal, gut), but the largest and most diverse microbiome is found in the intestinal tract. These microorganisms perform multiple functions, from metabolism of food components, drugs, and other xenobiotic compounds, to providing a barrier to colonization of the gut by multiple pathogenic bacteria. Recent research has demonstrated that the intestinal microbiota plays an even larger role in human health, affecting obesity, metabolic syndrome, chronic inflammation, immune system function, and an expanding list of other health conditions. Dr. Erickson’s current work is directed toward understanding the role the intestinal microbiota plays in human health and how differences or changes in the microbiota may affect the safety and effectiveness of drugs or medical treatments regulated by FDA.

Most recently, Dr. Erickson has initiated a research effort to assess safety concerns associated with fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). The FDA currently exercises a policy of enforcement discretion allowing the use of FMT to treat recurrent Clostridium difficile infections, or those that are not responsive to standard therapies. As more medical conditions are being connected to the disruption of the intestinal microbiome, FMT from healthy donors is being proposed as a potential treatment method. However, risks associated with pathogen contamination of FMT samples are not fully understood. This research effort will help establish thresholds for pathogen contamination and detection to assist the agency in developing science-based guidelines for the standardization and safety of FMT procedures. Dr. Erickson also has an ongoing collaboration with researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to study the effects of obesity and high isoflavone soy diets on breast-cancer development. Using a lean and obese rat model system, he is examining how soy diets promote differences in the composition and metabolic activity of the intestinal microbiome, and how these differences may contribute to changes in isoflavone metabolism and tumor formation.

Dr. Erickson has expertise in a wide range of molecular biology methods, and extensive experience in both anaerobic and aerobic microbiology — including in vitro culture systems for maintaining complex bacterial populations, and both culture-based and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)-based methods for characterizing microbial populations of the intestinal microbiome.

Professional Societies/National and International Groups

American Society for Microbiology
2014, 2015, 2016

Selected Publications

Assessment of Gut Microbiota Populations in Lean and Obese Zucker Rats.
Hakkak R., Korourian S., Foley S., and Erickson B.
PLOS ONE. 2017, 12(7):e0181451.

Functional Studies of the Recombinant CdtB, PltA, and PltB Subunits from Salmonella Enterica Serovar Javiana.
Mezal E., Bae D., Khan S., Erickson B., Nawaz M., and Khan A.
Int. J. Adv. Res. 2015, 3(4):1021-1029.

A Metallo-β-Lactamase Is Responsible for the Degradation of Ceftiofur by the Bovine Intestinal Bacterium Bacillus cereus P41.
Erickson B., Elkins C., Mullis L., Heinze T., Wagner R., and Cerniglia C.
Vet Microbiol. 2014, 172(3-4):499-504.

Bovine Intestinal Bacteria Inactivate and Degrade the Third Generation Cephalosporins Ceftiofur and Ceftriaxone with Multiple β-Lactamases.
Wagner R., Johnson S., Cerniglia C., and Erickson B.
Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2011, 55(11):4990-4998.

Echinacea Purpurea Supplementation Stimulates Select Groups of Human Intestinal Tract Microbiota.
Hill L., Foote J., Erickson B., Cerniglia C., and Denny G.
J Clin Pharm Ther. 2006, 31(6):599-604.

A Membrane Array Method to Detect Specific Human Intestinal Bacteria in Fecal Samples Using Reverse Transcriptase-PCR and Chemiluminescence. disclaimer icon
Kim P., Erickson B., and Cerniglia C.
J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2005, 15(2):310-320.

DNA Microarray Analysis of Predominant Human Intestinal Bacteria in Fecal Samples.
Wang R., Beggs M., Erickson B., and Cerniglia C.
Mol Cell Probes. 2004, 18(4):223-234.

A Rapid Method for Determining the Tuberculocidal Activity of Liquid Chemical Germicides.
Erickson B., Campbell W., and Cerniglia C.
Curr Microbiol. 2001, 43(2):79-82.

Identification and Modification of Biphenyl Dioxygenase Sequences that Determine the Specificity of Polychlorinated Biphenyl Degradation.
Mondello F., Turcich M., Lobos J., and Erickson B.
Appl Environ Microbiol. 1997 Aug, 63(8):3096-3103.

Enhanced Biodegradation of Polychlorinated Biphenyls after Site-Directed Mutagenesis of a Biphenyl Dioxygenase Gene.
Erickson B. and Mondello F.
Appl Environ Microbiol. 1993, 59(11):3858-3862.

Nucleotide Sequencing and Transcriptional Mapping of the Genes Encoding Biphenyl Dioxygenase, a Multicomponent Polychlorinated-Biphenyl-Degrading Enzyme in Pseudomonas Strain LB400.
Erickson B. and Mondello F.
J Bacteriol. 1992, 174(9):2903-2912.

Nucleotide Sequencing of the Transcriptional Control Region of the Osmotically Regulated proU Operon of Salmonella typhimurium and Identification of the 5’ Endpoint of the proU mRNA.
Overdier D., Olson E., Erickson B., Ederer M., and Csonka L.
J Bacteriol. 1989, 171(9):4694-4706.

Nucleotide Sequence of the rpsU-dnaG-rpoD Operon from Salmonella typhimurium and a Comparison of this Sequence with the Homologous Operon in Escherichia coli.
Erickson B., Burton Z., Watanabe K., and Burgess R.
Gene. 1985, 40(1):67-78.

Overproduction of Escherichia coli NusA Protein.
Olins P., Erickson B., and Burgess R.
Gene. 1983, 26(1):11-18.

Contact Information
Bruce Erickson
(870) 543-7121
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