William M Shafer, PhD
Emory Antibiotic Resistance Center
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Senior Research Career Scientist
PHONE: 404-728-7688 ext.404-321-6111 (ext. 7137)
The Shafer laboratory has been actively engaged in antibiotic resistance since 1984 with funding from the NIH and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The group has over the past three decades examined Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Staphylococcus aureus for their ability to resist both classical antibiotics and host-derived antimicrobials (principally, cationic antimicrobial peptides). A major finding that drives current work deals with the role of drug efflux pumps that contribute to the resistance of Neisseria gonorrhoeae to both antibiotics and host antimicrobials. In addition, the main efflux pump under study (MtrCDE) was identified to be required for survival of gonococci in an experimental infection of female mice. Thus, the work in the Shafer laboratory provided information, for the first time, that drug efflux pumps are important for both bacterial resistance to antibiotics and virulence. Detailed studies over the past 20 years have identified transcriptional regulatory systems that control levels of antimicrobial resistance through an efflux pump-dependent mechanism. In addition to a long term commitment to basic research on antibiotic resistance research, Professor Shafer is the Director of the “Antimicrobial Resistance and Therapeutic Discovery Training Program”, an NIH-funded training grant that supports graduate students in their research on antibiotic resistance. Further, he serves on the Drug Discovery and Resistance NIH study section that evaluates grants dealing with bacterial resistance to antibiotics and is on the Editorial Board for the premier journal for antibiotic resistance research, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.