Christopher LaRock, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Assistant Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine
Emory University School of Medicine
The LaRock lab examines the immune defenses against bacterial infection. A major focus is Streptococcus pyogenes (group A Strep), which is responsible for over one billion annual infections, largely as impetigo in children 2-5, and pharyngitis (strep throat) in children aged 5 -15. There is no vaccine. While common, it is also a top pathogen in morbidity and mortality worldwide through the ability to also cause diseases like scarlet fever, rheumatic heart disease, toxic shock syndrome, and necrotizing fasciitis. Our research finds that immune dysregulation is important in the transition from mild infection to severe disease. We hope to better treat Streptococcus pyogenes infections by restoring protective immune functions and inhibiting bacterial virulence, and to prevent disease by identifying an effective vaccine target. Other species important in human health we study include Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS), Staphylococcus aureus, and Staphylococcus epidermidis.