Emerging bacterial pathogens

Emerging bacterial pathogens


Head of Unit

Daniela Maria Cirillo



The unit is engaged in the following areas:

  1. research activities in the field of mycobacteria and nosocomial pathogens,
  2. accredited specialized diagnostics for mycobacterial infections,
  3. molecular epidemiology and typing of nosocomial pathogens for the OSR infection control committee,
  4. international public health activities in the TB field,
  5. international trainings in the field of mycobacterial diseases and multidrug resistant pathogens.

Research activity

The main research focus is on tuberculosis and other mycobacterial diseases with multiple lines of research:

  • Investigation of the determinants of drug resistance at genomic level and the correlation between specific SNPs in relevant genes and an increase in the phenotypic resistance by quantitative methods. 
  • Investigation of the pathogen’s associated determinants leading to the progression of the disease with a focus on the role of non-coding genomic regions.
  • Design and evaluation of new diagnostic assays.
  • Investigation of TB transmission dynamics among vulnerable population and the best strategy to be implemented for an early detection.
  • Use of whole genome sequencing (WGS) and in-house bioinformatic pipelines for the surveillance of TB outbreaks.
  • WGS-based revision of the taxonomy of NTMs and transmission investigation.
  • Development of a mouse model of lung chronic infection to study disease progression after NTMs infection and response to novel antibiotic therapies.

In addition, the group focus on virulence factors responsible for antimicrobial drug resistance in nosocomial pathogens. The unit identified virulence factors promoting the successful establishment of selected methicillin resistant S.aureus and KPC producing K.pneumoniae clones in hospitals. Moreover, researchers recently implemented WGS and customized bioinformatics pipelines as a tool to investigate transmission and virulence factors of multidrug resistant pathogens at both nosocomial and community level.