Karen Ottemann

Swimming in the Stomach:
the ulcer-causing bacterium Helicobactor pylori and disease

The Winter 2007 Synergy Lecture speaker is Dr. Karen Ottemann, whose research focuses on the swimming ability of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its relationship to disease.

In the past few decades, scientists have discovered that most ulcers are caused by a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. This bacterium has many attributes that allow it to grow in the stomach and cause disease. Dr. Ottemann's lab studies one of these attributes--the ability to swim. H. pylori possesses several motors called flagella, which it uses to propel itself. It doesn't, however, swim at random. Instead it navigates toward beneficial compounds and away from harmful ones. The lab studies why H. pylori has this ability and how it helps the microbe infect and cause ulcers. These studies are carried out by engineering H. pylori mutants to lose the ability to direct their swimming and then figuring out how these mutants differ from their normal parents.

Dr. Ottemann and her team have discovered that H. pylori hunts down specific nutrients by swimming and this ability helps it grow. The microbe also uses swimming to get close to the stomach cells and this ability initiates the development of an ulcer.

Please join us for this exciting look into cutting-edge research at UC Santa Cruz.


Karen Ottemann
Associate Professor of Environmental Toxicology

Swimming in the Stomach

Place: Science & Engineering Library, Current Periodicals Room
Date: Thursday, March 8, 2007
Time: 4:00 p.m.

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