Biography

Robert Hogan

Animal Health Research Center, Department of Infectious Diseases
PhD
Associate Professor, Joint Faculty

Expertise

  • Bacteriology
  • Cell Culture
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pathogenesis
  • Vaccinology
  • Virology

Biography

Dr. Hogan began his 25 year scientific career studying host-pathogen interactions during his graduate studies, which focused on immune responses to viral infection in teleosts. After receiving his doctoral degree, he joined the laboratory of Dr. David Woodland at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where his research focused on cell-mediated immune responses mediated by bacterial superantigens. After moving with Dr. Woodland to the Trudeau Institute, he received an individual National Research Service Award from NIH-NIAID to study T cell responses against respiratory virus pathogens (e.g. influenza and paramyxoviruses). Upon joining the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland as a Principal Investigator, Dr. Hogan engaged in the development of vaccines for protection against both Marburg and Ebola viruses in mouse and nonhuman primate (NHP) models of disease under BSL-4 containment. He continued studying immune responses against Ebola virus proteins and initiated animal model development and vaccine development for SARS-Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) vaccines after transitioning to the Southern Research Institute. Since arriving at the University of Georgia 13 years ago, his laboratory has continued to examine immune responses induced by vaccination and infections with bacterial and viral pathogens under BSL-2 and BSL-3 containment with over $22,000,000 in extramural funding from multiple sources as both P.I. and Co-P.I. During the last several years, he has worked closely with Dr. Eric Lafontaine to develop animal models and vaccines for Burkholderia mallei andpseudomallei in mice, NHPs, and horses.

Research Interests

  • Host-pathogen interactions
  • Viral and bacterial vaccine and therapeutic development
  • Pathogenesis of viral and bacterial pathogens

Educational Background

  • ​PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center, 1998
  • BS, Belhaven College, 1992

Activities

Infectious diseases have plagued humans and animals for thousands of years and have altered the course of history countless times. Although advances such as vaccines, therapeutics, and antibiotics have helped in this regard, recent outbreaks of disease such as SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and the novel H1N1 influenza virus outbreak in 2009 highlight the fact that additional research and treatments are of great need. With this in mind, our laboratory focuses on studying the interactions of the host and pathogen. By better understanding these processes, we aim to develop novel approaches to prevent the diseases, transmission, and mortality associated with viral and bacterial infections.

Vaccination represents one of the most important public health tools available. In this regard, we are working together with Dr. Eric Lafontaine to develop protein-based vaccines against the gram-negative bacteria Burkholderia mallei (Bm) and Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bp). These bacteria are endemic to areas near the equator including Southeast Asia and Northern Australia and can be isolated from the soil (Bp) or from an equine reservoir (Bm). Although the infections can manifest in multiple forms depending upon the route of infection, the most severe form of disease occurs during inhalation which results in pneumonia and subsequent bacteremia. The first step in this process is adherence to host cells, allowing entry of bacteria into the cytoplasm for replication and dissemination. Our approach to vaccine development for both Burkholderia mallei and pseudomallei is to target this mechanism, and we hypothesize that immune responses against bacterial proteins which facilitate binding to host cells can prevent or slow the entry of bacteria and subsequent replication. Recent data with one such candidate vaccine suggest that these bacterial adhesins are highly immunogenic and can provide protection against aerosol challenge.

While vaccines are excellent tools to protect naïve individuals, they are not generally effective for persons already infected or displaying signs of clinical disease. In this regard, our lab is also interested in the development of novel therapeutics for treatment. To address this need, we have employed a wide range of strategies including RNA interference (RNAi), random mutagenesis, and screening of chemical compound libraries to identify potentially useful treatments for SARS-CoV, influenza virus, and poxviruses. We are currently investigating the cellular genes and proteins required for SARS-CoV replication using both siRNAs and a lentiviral vector-based shRNA expression platform. To date, we have identified several cellular genes that are important in the lifecycle of SARS-CoV and influenza virus replication, and these may represent novel drug targets for intervention strategies. In order to gain a better understanding of poxvirus replication, we have made use of a custom-designed siRNA library that targets the majority of the known and predicted viral genes. These studies have led to the identification of over 17 different viral genes that are required for poxvirus replication, and given us insights into the complex replication cycle of this large DNA virus. Future studies will explore the feasibility of siRNA-mediated therapeutic use in vivo.

Teaching Experience

  • ​Veterinary Cell Biology (VARB 5170)
  • Advanced Topics in Infectious Diseases (IDIS 8010)