Dr. Azad’s primary research is focused on molecular and cellular factors involved in host-pathogen interactions in TB pathogenesis. His research studies have long been directed at understanding the roles of mycobacterial mannosylated surface glycolipids and host cell surface phagocytic receptors in pathogen survival in human macrophages. Dr. Azad’s ongoing research is focused on population genetics to study host susceptibility factors (human genetic variants) associated with TB and on discovery of anti-TB drugs from a small molecule library.
Inside the Lab
Working as a colleague and senior member with Dr. Larry Schlesinger, Dr. Azad contributed significantly to the study of components of human innate immune system and of bacterium M. tuberculosis to investigate into host-pathogen interactions and disease pathogenesis. The focus of majority of the studies was to address the question of how the interplay of macrophage phagocytic and pattern recognition receptors at the cell surface dictates post-phagocytic events in the cell such as signaling, trafficking, phagosome-lysosome fusion, the oxidative response, cell death, and cytokine production, in the context of TB infection.
The knowledge gained in TB pathogenesis studies relevant to humans sparked an extended interest in Dr. Azad in the study of human population genetics. For the last 8 years, Drs. Azad and Schlesinger established a productive collaboration with the pharmacogenomics research group of Dr. Wolfgang Sadee at the Ohio State University to study human genetic variation, in terms of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), in the innate immune genes conferring susceptibility to TB infection.
Dr. Azad is also interested and involved in translational research in the lab, such as, anti-TB drug discovery by repurposing of small molecule libraries, and, investigation into the use of the macrophage CD206 (mannose receptor) in delivery of diagnostics and therapeutics to the infected tissue sites during TB infection.
Main Technologies and Methods Used
- Gene cloning, Gene knockout, Gene Knockdown
- Recombinant bacterial strain and transgenic cell line development
- Bioluminescence-based mycobacterial survival screening
- Human lung and blood-derived macrophage isolation and infection
- Mammalian cell culture
- Bacterial and mammalian genomic nucleic acids (DNA & RNA) and PCR
- Genomics and transcriptomic methods and analysis
- Confocal microscopy