Small Animal Models of Disease


One potential drawback to the study of rare and emerging pathogens is the lack of reliable small-animal models. Faculty within the CPM are working to develop and advance available small animal models for use in basic through translational infectious disease research. Our cutting edge research is also focused on the utilization of diagnostic imaging techniques to enhance our understanding of disease pathogenesis and therapeutic/vaccine efficacy as well as the development of novel delivery platforms and challenge models.


Some of our most recent publications as well as a full archive of publications can be found on our Publications pages.

Research Faculty

Haixun Guo, Ph.D., Department of Radiology
Dr. Guo's research focuses on the development of PET/SPECT probes for the imaging of infection, inflammation, and cancer using small animal models.

Colleen Jonsson, Ph.D., University of Tennessee, Health Science Center
Dr. Jonsson's basic and translational research program spans over 30 years in the study of highly pathogenic RNA viruses, including investigations of hantaviruses, influenza viruses, SARS CoV and retroviruses. Her research has addressed basic questions of the viral life cycle and of the ecology and evolution of virus-host relationships. Her research has also focused on the discovery of antivirals against hantavirus, influenza, SARS-COV, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, dengue, respiratory syncytial and West Nile viruses.

Mathew B. Lawrenz, Ph.D., Department of Microbiology and Immunology
The genus Yersinia contains three pathogenic species that cause human infection. Two of these species, Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis, are transmitted by contaminated food or water to cause yersiniosis. Y. pestis is responsible for a significantly more deadly disease known as the plague. Y. pestis has recently evolved from Y. pseudotuberculosis to be transmitted to mammalian hosts by an insect vector (the flea). Y. pestis can also be transmitted from person to person by aerosols. Because of the ability for Y. pestis to infect people through aerosols, the lack of an effective vaccine, and the history of development of Y. pestis as a potential bioweapon, Y. pestis is classified by the federal government as a Select Agent. Dr. Lawrenz's lab focuses on two major research topics: 1) Understanding the ability of Y. pestis to survive in macrophages and 2) Developing adjuvants to improve plague vaccines.

Igor Lukashevich, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Dr. Lukashevich's lab conducts research center around two primary areas: 1) Novel vaccine technologies (virus-like-particle vectors; reassortant vaccines, infectious DNA vaccination) and 2) Molecular biology and pathogenesis of viral hemorrhagic fevers.

Jonathan Warawa, Ph.D., Department of Microbiology and Immunology
The primary focus of Dr. Warawa's laboratory is to study the progression of disease of B. pseudomallei and B. mallei in respiratory disease models – the form of the disease most likely to be associated with bioterrorism. We are using a combination of approaches to better understand the interactions between host and pathogen in mouse models, including: in vivo imaging, targeted mutagenesis of bacterial genes, microscopy of infected tissues, and an investigation of the host immune response. The findings of studies conducted in this laboratory will contribute to our understanding of how these pathogens successfully colonize the host lung and disseminate to other host tissues, and identify how these pathogens succeed in overcoming the host immune response to cause disease. A better understanding of the disease process will allow us to develop novel therapeutics that will interfere with disease and favor a successful host immune response.