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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

Back to NCTR Principal Investigator page

 About  |  Publications


Dr. Erickson received a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from Ohio University. He earned a master’s degree and a doctoral degree 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:

  • Developing methods for testing the tuberculocidal activity of liquid chemical germicides for medical devices.

  • Assessing risk associated with residue levels of antimicrobials in foods.

  • Studying metabolism of antibiotics by the intestinal bacteria.

  • Studying the impact of xenobiotic compounds and dietary factors on the bacterial populations that comprise the intestinal microbiota.

  • Evaluating risk factors associated with fecal microbiota transplantation using in vitro systems that model the human intestinal tract.

  • Developing protein tools to study human coronaviruses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Erickson is also actively involved in the FDA Microbiome Working Group and the FDA Institutional Biosafety Committees for NCTR and White Oak. 

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 metabolizing 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 that 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 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. 

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Erickson is developing protein reagents to study the receptor binding, cell interactions, and antibody-dependent enhancement of infection by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and related human coronaviruses.

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.

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 Chemiluminescencedisclaimer 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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