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Assistant Professor, Dept. of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

Research Summary

Luther Bartelt is an early investigator who studies intestinal infectious organisms with complex pathogenesis, namely Giardia and Cryptosporidium.  He has board certification in clinical Infectious Diseases, expertise in clinical and laboratory Tropical Medicine, and active care of immunocompromised patients. He completed an NIDDK-sponsored post-doctoral fellowship, and he is currently supported by an NIAID-sponsored Career Development Award. Working with Dr. Richard Guerrant during post-doctoral training at the University of Virginia, he developed a novel murine model of giardiasis that recapitulated features of both chronic infections in adults, as well as findings associated with infections in malnourished children. Intestinal bacteria, both resident and pathogenic, were observed to influence the pathogenesis of giardiasis during malnutrition.  These findings led to the development of a collaboration with Balfour Sartor and subsequent recruitment to UNC.  Through the CGIBD pilot feasibility project award, he developed a novel Giardia mono-association model for the purposes of more rigorous and defined examination of the role of key microbe-microbe interactions in the pathogenesis of giardiasis and early life pathogen exposures.  Key published findings have identified parasite-mediated metabolic perturbations in gut microbial protein degradation pathways and the ability of antibiotics without anti-giardial activity to prevent growth impairment during giardiasis.  Preliminary data suggest that Giardia, separate from resident intestinal bacteria does not significantly impair growth during protein malnutrition.
Relevance of Research to CGIBD Mission: Luther Bartelt is an infectious disease physician who studies giardia, in particular microbe-microbe interactions that are involved in the pathogenesis. . He was recruited to the UNC faculty with the help of the CGIBD, and although his appointment is in the Infectious Disease Division, his lab is located in CGIBD space.
CGIBD Focus Area(s): Microbiome
Pilot and Feasibility Award 2015
Collaborators:  Sartor