Jennifer Bomberger, PhD

  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
  • Adjunct Member, Graduate Program in Microbiology and Immunology

Education & Training

  • PhD in Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Michigan State University, 2005
  • BS in Microbiology, Penn State University, 2000

Research Interests

Dr. Bomberger’s research program examines mechanisms for microbial pathogenesis and the interaction between bacterial and viral pathogens in the respiratory tract, particularly in the setting of chronic lung diseases, like Cystic Fibrosis (CF), bronchiectasis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Many clinical studies show a strong correlation of respiratory virus infection with the acquisition of chronic infections with the opportunistic pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa in CF and COPD patients. Dr. Bomberger’s recent publications provide compelling evidence that respiratory viral co-infections, and the antiviral immune response to them, drive P. aeruginosa to transition from acute to chronic infection. Current studies in the lab are focused on elucidating molecular mechanisms that govern the innate immune induction of biofilm growth in the lung. Translating the laboratory’s bench studies to the bedside, the Bomberger lab collaborates with physicians in Otolaryngology and Pulmonary Medicine at UPMC to examine viral-bacterial interactions in the upper and lower respiratory tracts of patients with chronic lung disease. The goal of these studies is to examine the adaptation and transmission of P. aeruginosa between the upper and lower respiratory tracts during viral exacerbations and the impact on disease progression. Dr. Bomberger’s lab uses a combination of live-cell imaging, microbiological, cell biological and cutting-edge genomics approaches with the long-term goal of identifying new therapeutic targets to disrupt and/or prevent the chronic P. aeruginosa biofilm infections that are so devastating to CF and COPD patients. Bacteria and viruses are exceptionally adept at exploiting host pathways to ensure their survival, and understanding this interplay is critical to combating diseases associated with microbial infection.


Hendricks MR, Lashua LP, Fischer DK, Flitter BA, Eichinger KM, Durbin JE, Sarkar SN, Coyne CB, Empey KM and Bomberger JM. 2016. Respiratory syncytial virus infection enhances Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm growth through dysregulation of nutritional immunity. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 113: 1642-1647.

Melvin JA, Lashua LP, Deslouches B, Pilewski JM, Montelaro RC and Bomberger JM. 2016. Engineered cationic antimicrobial peptides (eCAP) target both viral and bacterial pathogens during co-infection. mSphere. 1. [Highlighted by Nature Publishing Group Biofilms and Microbiomes.]

Bomberger JM*, Ely K, Bangia N, Ye S, Green KA, Green WR, Enelow RI and Stanton BA. 2014. Pseudomonas aeruginosa Cif protein enhances the ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of the Transporter Associated with Antigen Processing (TAP) and reduces Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) class I antigen presentation. J Biol Chem. 289: 152-162. *Corresponding author.

Flitter BA, Hvorecny KL, Ono E, Eddens T, Yang J, Kwak DH, Bahl CD, Dolben E, Hampton T, Morisseau C, Hammock BD, Liu X, Hogan DA, Lee JS, Kolls JK, Levy BD, Madden DR and Bomberger JM. 2017. Pseudomonas aeruginosa sabotages the generation of host pro-resolving lipid mediators. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 114: 136-141.

Zemke A, Shiva S, Burns JL, Moscowitz S, Pilewski JM, Gladwin MT and Bomberger JM. 2014. Nitrite modulates bacterial biofilm formation and antibiotic susceptibility. Free Rad Biol Med. 77: 307-316.

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