Global Enterics Laboratory
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About the Lab
We are a basic and translational research laboratory within an academic hospital. Our research is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
We are committed to studying infectious disease topics of high clinical significance and to training investigators at all levels of experience, including individuals from groups historically underrepresented in the sciences and medicine. We are invested in bi-directional international collaborations that enhance clinical and research capacity for all partners.
B cell Responses to Cholera and Enteric Infections
Antibodies secreted at the mucosal surface are critical mediators of protection against enteric infection. Our current work is focused on how these antibodies interact with the innate immune system to protect against cholera and other mucosal infections.
Klebsiella species with antimicrobial resistance are increasingly important global pathogens. We are working on clinical and in vitro studies to understand the human immune response to Klebsiella, and to better understand how host-responses impact the course of invasive infection.
Importation of Highly Drug Resistant Organisms into the U.S. by International Travelers
International travelers frequently acquire highly drug resistant organisms in the gut. Our research focuses on the risk factors for acquiring resistant organisms and evaluates duration of carriage, household transmission and associated illness. Through collaboration with Ashlee Earl and Colin Worby of the Bacterial Genomics Group of the Broad Institute of Harvard/MIT, we use a combination of single isolate genome sequencing and metagenomic sequencing to determine resistance mechanisms, genetic links to geographic origins and microbiome perturbation.
Global TravEpiNet (GTEN)
We support the laboratory studies of Global TravEpiNet, a nationwide consortium of travel clinics focused on disease prevention in U.S. international travelers.
When the pandemic hit the U.S., we deployed our laboratory and staff to work on COVID-19 related research. Our lab was involved in developing one of the first laboratory-developed COVID tests approved for use on patients. We now study antibody responses to SARS-CoV 2, and we are the laboratory diagnostics team for the RadX-UP project awarded to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the MGH Kraft Center for Community Health, and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.
Regina LaRocque, MD, MPH
Regina LaRocque is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is a faculty member of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her clinical and research interests are in infectious diseases, environmental health and travel medicine.
Dr. LaRocque received her MD from Duke University School of Medicine and MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health. She completed her residency training and fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. LaRocque is a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. She is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in internal medicine and infectious diseases.
Dr. LaRocque co-directs the Global TravEpiNet (GTEN) consortium, a CDC supported network of travel clinics across the U.S. which aims to improve the health of international travelers. She serves as Chief Medical Editor of the CDC Yellow Book: Health Information for International Travel.
Jason Harris, MD, MPH
Jason Harris is Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and serves as Division Chief for Pediatric Global Health at Mass General for Children. He is a faculty member of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital. His clinical and research interests are in bacterial infections, enteric infections, and vaccines.
Dr. Harris received his MD from Duke University School of Medicine and MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health. He completed his residency training at the Massachusetts General Hospital and fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Harris is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in general pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases.
Dr. Harris is a physician-investigator with a research program in the areas of host-pathogen interactions in Vibrio cholerae infection and cholera vaccines. The program is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He has long-standing collaborations with investigators at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), and with Partners In Health / Zanmi Lasante in Haiti.
Sushmita Sridhar, PhD
Sushmita Sridhar, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Research fellow who joined the lab in March 2021. She is researching antimicrobial resistance in enteric bacteria using a combination of computational and laboratory approaches. Her two projects focus on the acquisition and carriage of drug-resistant organisms in international travelers and genomic and phenotypic characterization of drug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae from Bangladesh.
Wontae Hwang, PhD
Wontae Hwang, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Research fellow who joined the lab in March 2022. He is interested in adaptive immune response of patients who were infected with Klebsiella pneumoniae. Especially, he is using multiple bead assay to investigate the antibody production against O-antigen and K-antigen of Klebsiella pneumoniae, and focusing on the function of these antibodies in protecting the host.
Damien Slater, PhD
Damien Slater, PhD, is lab manager for the Harris & LaRocque laboratory. He joined the lab in December 2019 after working for 12 years in molecular diagnostics as an assay and instrumentation development scientist. In addition to providing general support to the lab, Damien has been working on the development of real-time PCR based assays for enteric pathogen detection and assisting with COVID-19 serological surveillance studies.
Vanessa Sanchez, BS
Vanessa Sanchez, BS, is a Research Technician who joined the lab in July 2020. She has been working on development of real-time PCR-based assays to detect enteric pathogens, as well as participating in regional and international COVID-19 seroprevalence studies.
Kian Hutt Vater, BS
Kian Hutt Vater, BS, joined the Global Enterics Laboratory in October 2021. He is a Research Technician II who is working on the detection of biomarkers of Cholera infection in endemic populations. Kian is also involved with studies examining the prevalence and diversity Klebsiella Pneumonia strains in hospital settings.
Research Study Nurse
Elizabeth Oliver, BSN, RN
Elizabeth Oliver, BSN, RN, is a research study nurse coordinating multiple studies supported by the Harris & LaRocque Laboratory. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Southern Maine and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Vermont. She has worked as a registered nurse in internal medicine, infectious diseases and travel medicine. Her primary work in the Harris & LaRocque Lab has been recruitment, enrollment, follow up and participant retention in addition to administrative and regulatory management for clinical research studies.
Anupama (Ammu) Dinesh, BS
Anupama (Ammu) Dinesh, BS, has been working with the Harris & LaRocque Lab as a clinical research coordinator since June 2020 after graduating Brown University with a degree in Health & Human Biology and Anthropology. She has primarily been working on the COVID-19 Household Contacts at Risk (CAR) study and rapid testing for COVID-19. Her roles at MGH include working with the MGHfC Division of Global Health and as a program coordinator for the MGH Center for Immigrant Health.
Sowmya Rao, PhD
Dr. Sowmya Rao is a Biostatistician with over 25 years of experience in applying statistical techniques to the fields of epidemiology and health services research, and to topics within each of these, including measurement/surveillance of disease outcomes, disparities in health care, adoption of Electronic Health Records, impact of clinical tools, survey research, and global health.