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Associate Professor
Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
School of Medicine

Research Summary

Luther Bartelt is an Associate Professor physician-scientist with board certification in clinical Infectious Diseases, expertise in clinical and laboratory Tropical Medicine, and active care of immunocompromised patients. He is an expert in the clinical management of intestinal infections, particularly intestinal protozoa. His translational research is focused on dietary and microbiota disruptions that influence the consequences of prolonged intestinal pathogen carriage. In global health studies, he has developed translational murine models that recapitulate epidemiological findings in child cohorts. These models have led to key discoveries that malnutrition-induced dysbiosis is a key risk factor for increased susceptibility to protozoa infections and that this loss of colonization resistance is an independent defect from host immunodeficiency during malnutrition. With the UNC National Gnotobiotic Rodent Resource Center, his group developed the first protozoa mono-association models in germ-free mice. With this tool they revealed that nutrient-metabolic perturbations arising from complex Giardia-microbiota interactions unerly previously elusive pathogenesis of Giardia-associated growth impairment. In addition, Dr. Bartelt’s laboratory has used these models as pre-clinical tools for studying vaccine efficacy and novel anti-parasitic and microbiota-directed therapies. The laboratory is currently expanding the application of these models to investigate the role of dietary deficiencies on loss of colonization resistance to other pathogens, including antimicrobial resistant bacteria like Klebsiella pneumoniae and invasive strains of E. coli. At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Bartelt also co-developed and then led a translational program examining the therapeutic potential of polyclonal antibodies as treatment for severe SARS-CoV-2 infection. Dr. Bartelt is a member of the Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Diseases, the Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research Program, the Program on Antimicrobial Resistance and UNC, and UNC SARS-CoV-2 SeroNet Center. He is a mentor on NIH T32 training grants in Gastroenterology and Infectious Diseases.

Luther Bartelt, MD