Dr. Alaullah Sheikh joined the Department of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases as an instructor in July 2022. Under an NIH-sponsored Fogarty International Fellowship program he received additional training in the laboratory of Dr. Edward T. Ryan, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School, on the genomic and proteomic analysis of enteric pathogens as well as the host immune response to these pathogens. As a graduate student of the Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis Program at Washington University in St. Louis, he continued to pursue the molecular characterization of gastrointestinal pathogen-host interactions in Dr. James Fleckenstein’s laboratory. Here, he used state-of-the-art molecular techniques and adapted stem cell derived organoid technologies (“enteroids”) to investigate relevant ETEC-host interactions.
As part of his postdoctoral research, Dr. Sheikh expanded these investigations and revealed that ETEC toxins change intestinal cell surface glycoproteins which modify pathogen-host interactions. Intriguingly, he also noticed differential expression of many genes that are central to the maintenance, proliferation, and differentiation of intestinal epithelial cells. Since intestinal epithelium is continuously self-renewing, toxin-mediated perturbation of the homeostatic processes is likely to trigger changes in intestinal epithelia leading to detrimental sequelae. His research is ultimately focused on studying pathogenesis of enteric bacterial infections, pathogen-host interactions, and host responses.