5018-Nelson, David

David E. Nelson, PhD

Professor of Microbiology & Immunology

MS 420
635 Barnhill Drive

Indianapolis, IN
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Dr. Nelson completed his Ph.D. in the laboratory of Dr. Kevin Young at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine where he studied peptidoglycan remodeling enzymes in Escherichia coli. He subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Dr. Harlan Caldwell's laboratory at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain laboratories, where he trained in microbial pathogenesis. He joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the IUSM in 2013 where he directs a multidisciplinary research team that works in overlapping areas of microbial pathogenesis, immunology, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and clinical infectious disease.

One focus in the lab is the identification and characterization of Chlamydia trachomatis (the causative agent of the disease chlamydia) virulence factors that allow this pathogen to target specific tissues and circumvent immunity (NIH Grant 5R01AI099278). Long-term goals of this project are to gain mechanistic insights into the molecular basis of chlamydial pathogenesis and inform attempts to design an effective chlamydia vaccine. A second focus is discovery of new urogenital pathogens (NIH Grant 5R01AI116706). These projects apply powerful "omics" type approaches (microbiome, proteome, genome, transcriptome) to specimens from large clinical cohorts. Long-term goals of these projects are to clarify the etiology and epidemiology of several common, but idiopathic, urogenital tract syndromes to develop improved diagnostics and treatments. Most recently, the team has begun to investigate the natural history of Chlamydia trachomatis and (NIH Grant 1R01AI77002) and several other common STIs. Goals of these projects are to clarify the epidemiology of these STIs and determine why some men who are exposed become infected and develop disease, others are infected but do not develop disease, and some frequently exposed men are never infected.

Dr. Nelson’s is committed to mentoring young scientists and has trained dozens of graduate students, medical students, postdoctoral fellows and clinical fellows who have gone on to successful careers in academic medicine and industry. Potential trainees are encouraged to contact Dr. Nelson by e-mail to hear more about current opportunities.

Key Publications

Representative publications (Nelson lab Graduate Student* or Postdoctoral Fellow**):

Toh E**, Xing Y, Gao X, Jordan SJ, Batteiger TA, Batteiger BE, Van Der Pol B, Muzny CA, Gebregziabher N, Williams JA, Fortenberry LJ, Fortenberry JD, Dong Q, Nelson DE. 2023. Sexual behavior shapes male genitourinary microbiome composition. Cell Rep Med. PMID: 36948151

Banerjee A*, Sun Y**, Muramatsu MK*, Toh E**, Nelson DE. 2023. A Member of an Ancient Family of Bacterial Amino Acids Transporters Contributes to Chlamydia Nutritional Virulence and Immune Evasion. Infect Immun. PMID: 36847502

Schwab NR, Young NE, Nzenwata DU, Toh E**, Mikulin JA, Wilson TJ, Nelson DE, Balish MF. 2023. Characterization of Virulence-Associated Traits in Mycoplasma penetrans Strains Acting as Likely Etiological Agents of Idiopathic Nongonococcal Urethritis. J Infect Dis. PMID: 36588346

Toh E**, Gao X, Williams JA, Batteiger TA, Coss LA, LaPradd M, Ren J, Geisler WM, Xing Y, Dong Q, Nelson DE, Jordan SJ. 2022. Evaluation of Clinical, Gram Stain, and Microbiological Cure Outcomes in Men Receiving Azithromycin for Acute Nongonococcal Urethritis: Discordant Cures Are Associated With Mycoplasma genitalium Infection. Sex Transm Dis. PMID: 34618416

Brothwell JA*, Brockett M, Banerjee A*, Stein BD, Nelson DE, Liechti GW. 2021. Genome copy number regulates inclusion expansion, septation, and infectious developmental form conversion in Chlamydia trachomatis. J Bacteriol. PMID: 33431433

Morrison SG, Giebel AM*, Toh E**, Banerjee A*, Nelson DE, Morrison RP. 2020. A Genital Infection-Attenuated Chlamydia muridarum Mutant Infects the Gastrointestinal Tract and Protects against Genital Tract Challenge. mBio. PMID: 33144378

Jordan SJ, Toh E**, Williams JA, Fortenberry L, LaPradd ML, Katz BP, Batteiger BE, Nelson DE, Batteiger TA. 2020. Aetiology and prevalence of mixed-infections and mono-infections in non-gonococcal urethritis in men: a case-control study. Sex Transm Infect. PMID: 31515293

Batteiger TA, Jordan SJ, Toh E**, Fortenberry L, Williams JA, LaPradd M, Katz B, Fortenberry JD, Dodge B, Arno J, Batteiger BE, Nelson DE. 2019. Detection of Rectal Chlamydia trachomatis in Heterosexual Men Who Report Cunnilingus. Sex Transm Dis. PMID: 31194715

Giebel AM*, Hu S, Rajaram K*, Finethy R, Toh E**, Brothwell JA*, Morrison SG, Suchland RJ, Stein BD, Coers J, Morrison RP, Nelson DE. 2019. Genetic Screen in Chlamydia muridarum Reveals Role for an Interferon-Induced Host Cell Death Program in Antimicrobial Inclusion Rupture. mBio. PMID: 30967464

Titles & Appointments

  • Professor of Microbiology & Immunology
  • Professor of Medicine

Research Labs

Faculty research at IU School of Medicine is transforming health. Details about the medical research being conducted in faculty labs throughout IU School of Medicine are available in the Research section of this site.

Faculty Labs