Robert M.Q. Shanks, PhD

  • Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology
  • Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
  • Basic Science Director, Campbell Laboratory of Ophthalmic Microbiology

Education & Training

  • PhD in Molecular and Microbiology, Tufts University Medical School, 2003
  • BA in Biology, Alfred University

Research Interests

The overall goals of my laboratory are to reduce vision loss and other morbidities caused by bacterial infections and ocular inflammation, and to gain mechanistic insight into host-pathogen interactions. My research program has several current facets, listed below.

1. Understanding the role of the GumB-Rcs stress response system in microbial pathogenesis and pathoadaptation. 
2. The impact of bacterial outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) in ocular host-pathogen interactions.
3. The role of the LasR transcription factor in Pseudomonas aeruginosa keratitis. 
4. Use of predatory bacteria to treat ocular bacterial infections. 


Brothers KM, Callaghan JD, Stella NA, Bachinsky JM, AlHigaylan M, Lehner KL, Franks JM. Lathrop KL, Collins E, Schmitt DM, Horzempa J and Shanks RMQ. 2019. Blowing epithelial cell bubbles with GumB: ShlA-family pore-forming toxins induce blebbing and rapid cellular death in corneal epithelial cells. PLoS Pathog. 15: e1007825. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007825. eCollection.

Duncan MC, Forbes JC, Nguyen Y, Shull LM, Gillette RK, Lazinski DW, Ali A and Shanks RMQ. 2018. Vibrio cholerae motility exerts drag force to impede attack by the bacterial predator Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus. Nat Commun. 9: 4757. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07245-3. 

Stella NA, Brothers KM, Callaghan JD, Passerini AM, Sigindere C, Hill PJ, Liu X, Wozniak DJ and Shanks RMQ. 2018. An IgaA/UmoB Family Protein from Serratia marcescens Regulates Motility, Capsular Polysaccharide Biosynthesis, and Secondary Metabolite Production. Appl Environ Microbiol. 84: pii: e02575-17. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02575-17.

Brothers KM, Stella NA, Hunt KM, Romanowski EG, Liu X, Klarlund JK and Shanks RM. 2015. Putting on the brakes: Bacterial impediment of wound healing. Sci Rep. 5: 14003. doi: 10.1038/srep14003.

Stella NA, Lahr RM, Brothers KM, Kalivoda EJ, Hunt KM, Kwak DH, Liu X and Shanks RM. 2015. Serratia marcescens Cyclic AMP Receptor Protein Controls Transcription of EepR, a Novel Regulator of Antimicrobial Secondary Metabolites.J Bacteriol. 197: 2468-2478. doi: 10.1128/JB.00136-15.

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