Kevin Mason, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University School of Medicine in the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
The Mason laboratory studies pathogenic mechanisms that equip survival of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) during transition from a commensal microorganism of the nasopharynx to pathogen of the upper and lower airways. Of critical importance is the ability of NTHI to adapt to host microenvironments, specifically the limitation of nutrients and host immune pressures. The lab has identified mechanisms of innate immune resistance and nutrient uptake that are essential for NTHI pathogenesis. The lab's work is focused on three main areas of investigation: 1) how host nutritional immunity influences NTHI biofilm architecture via morphological changes in bacteria, invasion of host epithelial cells and modulation of inflammatory responses that contributes to persistence and disease severity; 2) Sap-transporter mediated uptake of nutrients and host derived antimicrobial peptides as a mechanism of survival; 3) biochemical analysis of Sap ABC transporter assembly and function in response to host nutritional and innate immune pressures. Elucidation of mechanisms of pathogenesis will allow the lab to develop and apply novel strategies to target NTHI virulence mechanisms.