David E. Nelson

David E. Nelson, PhD

Associate Professor of Microbiology & Immunology


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 the functions of peptidogylcan 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 chlamydial pathogenesis.

Dr. Nelson's group currently works in two distinct, but sometimes, overlapping areas of microbial pathogenesis. One focus is the identification and characterization of chlamydial virulence factors that allow these pathogens to target specific tissues and circumvent immunity. His group has already identified several factors that mediate chlamydial tissues tropism and immune evasion. Long-term goals of these projects are the identification of suitable vaccine antigens and the design of efficacious anti-chlamydial vaccines. A second focus of his laboratory is urogenital pathogen discovery. These projects apply powerful "omics" type approaches (microbiome, proteome, genome, transcriptome) to specimens from large clinical cohorts. Dr. Nelson's group was the first to demonstrate that the distal urethras of men support microbial communities that resemble those present in the vagina, and contributed to the discovery of a novel clade of Neisseria meningitidis which is an emerging uropathogen. Long-term goals of these projects are  the discovery of novel and emerging urogenital pathogens, the development of improved treatment modalities for urogenital infections, and the design of diagnostics for improved evaluation of urogenital disease.

Key Publications

Neisseria meningitidis ST11 Complex Isolates Associated with Nongonococcal Urethritis, Indiana, USA, 2015-2016. Toh E, Gangaiah D, Batteiger BE, Williams JA, Arno JN, Tai A, Batteiger TA, Nelson DE. Emerg Infect Dis. 2017. 23(2):336-339.


Generation of targeted Chlamydia trachomatis null mutants. Kari L, Goheen MM, Randall LB, Taylor LD, Carlson JH, Whitmire WM, Virok D, Rajaram K, Endresz V, McClarty G, Nelson DE, Caldwell HD. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011. 108(17):7189-93.


Beyond Tryptophan Synthase: Identification of Genes That Contribute to Chlamydia trachomatis Survival during Gamma Interferon-Induced Persistence and Reactivation. Muramatsu MK, Brothwell JA, Stein BD, Putman TE, Rockey DD, Nelson DE. Infect Immun. 2016. 84(10):2791-801.


Interrogating Genes That Mediate Chlamydia trachomatis Survival in Cell Culture Using Conditional Mutants and Recombination. Brothwell JA, Muramatsu MK, Toh E, Rockey DD, Putman TE, Barta ML, Hefty PS, Suchland RJ, Nelson DE. J Bacteriol. 2016. 198(15):2131-9.

Characteristic male urine microbiomes associate with asymptomatic sexually transmitted infection. Nelson DE, Van Der Pol B, Dong Q, Revanna KV, Fan B, Easwaran S, Sodergren E, Weinstock GM, Diao L, Fortenberry JD. PLoS One. 2010. 5(11):e14116.



(317) 274-2813 

Microbiology & Immunology
MS 420 635 Barnhill Drive
Indianapolis, IN


Titles & Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Medicine