Jennifer Bomberger, PhD

  • Director of the Graduate Program in Microbiology and Immunology
  • Associate Professor, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Education & Training

  • Graduate School – Michigan State University – PhD – Cellular and Molecular Physiology
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship- Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth- Host-Pathogen Interactions

Research Grants

NIH Grants:  R01, R61/R33, R13

Research Summary

Dr. Jennifer Bomberger’s research program examines mechanisms for microbial pathogenesis and the interaction between bacterial and viral pathogens in the respiratory tract, particularly in the pathogenesis of chronic lung diseases, like cystic fibrosis (CF). Many clinical studies show a strong correlation for respiratory virus infection with the acquisition of chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in CF patients. Dr. Bomberger’s recent publications provide compelling evidence that respiratory viral infections, and the antiviral immune response to them, drive P. aeruginosa to transition from acute to chronic infection. Dr. Bomberger’s laboratory is now examining the molecular mechanisms that govern respiratory virus-induced P. aeruginosa biofilm formation. 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. Working to take her work from the bench to the bedside, Dr. Bomberger also collaborates with Dr. Stella Lee in Otolaryngology at UPMC to examine viral-bacterial interactions in the sinuses 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. These studies include novel genomic approaches, in collaboration with Dr. Vaughn Cooper in MMG, to capture the P. aeruginosa diversity in both anatomical sites and determine if this is altered with a viral infection in a way that promotes disease progression. Dr. Bomberger’s long-term goal is to identify new therapeutic strategies to prevent chronic bacterial infections in the respiratory tract.

Representative Publications

  1. Dar HH, Tyurina YY, Mikulska-Ruminska K, Shrivastava I, Ting HC, Tyurin VA, Krieger J, St Croix CM, Watkins S, Bayir E, Mao G, Armbruster CR, Kapralov A, Wang H, Parsek MR, Anthonymuthu TS, Ogunsola AF, Flitter BA, Freedman CJ, Gaston JR, Holman TR, Pilewski JM, Greenberger JS, Mallampalli RK, Doi Y, Lee JS, Bahar I, Bomberger JM, Bayır H, Kagan VE. Pseudomonas aeruginosa utilizes host polyunsaturated phosphatidylethanolamines to trigger theft-ferroptosis in bronchial epithelium. J Clin Invest. 2018 Oct 1;128(10):4639-4653. doi: 10.1172/JCI99490. Epub 2018 Sep 10. PubMed PMID: 30198910; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6159971.
  2. Kiedrowski MR, Gaston JR, Kocak BR, Coburn SL, Lee S, Pilewski JM, Myerburg MM, Bomberger JM. Staphylococcus aureus Biofilm Growth on Cystic Fibrosis Airway Epithelial Cells Is Enhanced during Respiratory Syncytial Virus Coinfection. mSphere. 2018 Aug 15;3(4). pii: e00341-18. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00341-18. PubMed PMID: 30111629; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6094059.
  3. Purcaro G, Rees CA, Melvin JA, Bomberger JM, Hill JE. Volatile fingerprinting of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and respiratory syncytial virus infection in an in vitro cystic fibrosis co-infection model. J Breath Res. 2018 Jul 3;12(4):046001. doi: 10.1088/1752-7163/aac2f1. PubMed PMID: 29735804; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6057612.
  4. Flitter BA, Hvorecny KL, Ono E, Eddens T, Yang J, Kwak DH, Bahl CD, Hampton TH, Morisseau C, Hammock BD, Liu X, Lee JS, Kolls JK, Levy BD, Madden DR, Bomberger JM. Pseudomonas aeruginosa sabotages the generation of host proresolving lipid mediators. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Jan 3;114(1):136-141. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1610242114. Epub 2016 Dec 15. PubMed PMID: 27980032; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5224368.
  5. Melvin JA, Bomberger JM. Compromised Defenses: Exploitation of Epithelial Responses During Viral-Bacterial Co-Infection of the Respiratory Tract. PLoS Pathog. 2016 Sep 15;12(9):e1005797. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005797. eCollection 2016 Sep. Review. PubMed PMID: 27631788; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5025022.
  6. Melvin JA, Lashua LP, Kiedrowski MR, Yang G, Deslouches B, Montelaro RC, Bomberger JM. Simultaneous Antibiofilm and Antiviral Activities of an Engineered Antimicrobial Peptide during Virus-Bacterium Coinfection. mSphere. 2016 May 4;1(3). pii: e00083-16. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00083-16. eCollection 2016 May-Jun. PubMed PMID: 27303744; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4888888.
  7. Hendricks MR, Lashua LP, Fischer DK, Flitter BA, Eichinger KM, Durbin JE, Sarkar SN, Coyne CB, Empey KM, Bomberger JM. Respiratory syncytial virus infection enhances Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm growth through dysregulation of nutritional immunity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Feb 9;113(6):1642-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1516979113. Epub 2016 Jan 4. PubMed PMID: 26729873; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4760822.