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Current Members of the Salama Lab


Nina Salama

Principal Investigator


Member, Division of Human Biology

Member, Public Health Sciences Division

Affiliate Member, Basic Sciences Division

Affiliate  Professor, University of Washington Department of Microbiology


Kris Blair

Graduate Student, Molecular and Cellular Biology Program

I am interested in elucidating the structure-function relationships of proteins that are involved in regulating cell shape in the helical shaped bacterium Helicobacter pylori. I am pursuing a multi-disciplinary approach using molecular genetics, evolutionary analyses, and biochemical and biophysical techniques to develop structural models of multi-protein complexes that modify the peptidoglycan cell wall, resulting in helical shaped cells.

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Tina Gall

MD/PhD Student, Molecular and Cellular Biology Program

I am interested in understanding how Helicobacter pylori interacts with its environment, namely the host epithelial cell and the complex microbial communities residing in the upper gastrointestinal tract. My projects are focused on elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which H. pylori triggers the innate immune response in the host, as well as characterizing how the composition of microbial communities in the stomach and esophagus change in the presence or absence of H. pylori.


Rohan Hassan

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am interested in how H. pylori initiates an immune response in the host. I am using techniques such as cloning, ELISA and CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing of gastric epithelial cells to understand how H. pylori modulates the host immune response. My goal is to contribute to an improved understanding of the underlying mechanisms by which the host and bacteria interact.


Laura Jackson

Graduate Student, Molecular and Cellular Biology Program

I am interested in understanding the mechanisms H. pylori uses to adapt and persist within its human host during periods of chronic infection. To do this I take a functional genomics approach, using both next-gen sequence data to compare populations over time and basic genetic tools and techniques to identify specific factors that facilitate adaptation during chronic infection.


Christina Leverich

Research Technician

Along with making sure things run smoothly in the lab, I am also involved in many research projects.  Some of the experiments I find most fascinating involve using microscopy to visualize murine stomachs during Helicobacter pylori infection.  The ability to do this enables us to explore many things such as how different mutants colonize the host and how the host responds to the bacteria.


Valerie O'Brien

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

My research expertise is in chronic bacterial infections and their impact on the host. In the Salama lab I am using mouse models and human tissue samples to investigate the molecular mechanism(s) through which chronic Helicobacter pylori infection leads to the development of gastric cancer.


Jenny Taylor

Graduate Student, Microbiology

I am interested in how Helicobacter pylori lives up to its genus name - how it generates its characteristic helical shape.  Using biochemical techniques, I am working to determine the physical interaction network among a number of proteins, discovered by previous lab members, that are important for proper shape phenotype.  I am also interested in determining the sub-cellular localization of these proteins using fluorescence microscopy and transmission electron microscopy with immunogold labeling.  Additional work may expand to identifying sites of new peptidoglycan synthesis as it relates to helical cell shape and the cell shape-determining proteins.