Merritt Lab

Our focus is on the molecular and cellular microbiology of the human oral microbiome to understand how mucosal health is regulated in the human body.

Our research

Research in the Merritt laboratory focuses upon the molecular and cellular microbiology of the human oral microbiome to understand how mucosal health is regulated in the human body. Currently, few efficacious treatment options are available to mitigate the many types of chronic diseases triggered by mucosal dysbiosis, such as oral diseases, irritable bowel disease, urogenital tract infections, chronic lung infections, etc. Mucosal dysbiosis is also increasingly associated with the development of a variety of different cancers, with many tumors being stably colonized by various oral microbiome species. The treatment of dysbiotic diseases poses a unique challenge because the few microbiome species associated with pathology naturally live amongst a plethora of other beneficial microbes within mixed communities. Ultimately, effective therapeutic solutions will require a much deeper understanding of microbiome ecology and its impact upon the host response.

Projects in the Merritt Lab encompass a wide range of topics including clinical microbiology, bacterial genetics, protein biochemistry/structure, and infection biology. Mechanistic studies of microbiome pathobiology are primarily investigated using bacterial strains isolated directly from clinical specimens obtained from OHSU dental clinics. Key interests encompass various aspects of bacterial and host genetics as well as mechanisms of microbiome polymicrobial synergistic pathogenesis and associated immunopathology.

Merritt Lab graphic showing Oral Microbiome Genetics and Polymicrobial Infection Studies

Lab members

Justin Merritt | David Anderson | Christina Borland | Dustin Higashi | Madeleine Krieger | Hua Qin | Zhengzhong Zou

The Merritt Lab at OHSU is in Portland, Oregon. Oregon Health & Science University is a nationally prominent research university and Oregon’s only academic health center. It educates health professionals and scientists and provides leading-edge patient care, community service and biomedical research.