Pennsylvania State University, USA

In 1996, Professor Harvill attained his PhD in Immunology at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), and started his own lab to explore the best experimental system in infectious diseases. He decided on the respiratory pathogens of the genus Bordetella and developed it as a new model system.  He then established the mouse infection system in Prof. Jeff Miller’s lab, where he gained substantial knowledge in bacterial genetics and pathogenesis. Currently, his research group has been working at the junction of bacterial pathogenesis and immunology, demonstrating that the pertussis toxin has different effects in naïve and immune hosts, and that the toxin’s most important role is likely in bacteria’s poorly understood ability to repeatedly infect immune hosts.  This phenomenon explains how B. pertussis continues to circulate in highly vaccinated immune populations. Recently, his research group has established a unique experimental infection model system from observing the interaction of Bordetella species with the resident microbiota of the respiratory tract, enabling them to examine aspects of the infectious process that cannot otherwise be studied for most other pathogens.