Research in the Division of Infectious Diseases

The Division of Infectious Diseases is involved in multidisciplinary research including Bench Research, Clinical Trials, Banking Trials and Behavioral Trials. Collaborative research efforts are ongoing with internal and external partners.

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  Banking Studies

Banking refers to collecting and storing data or biospecimens for future, unspecified research purposes. This is sometimes done alongside another research protocol or is done with the sole purpose of storage for future research. It is a way to gather specimens or health information from a group of individuals with something in common (for example - HIV+, have anal cancer, pneumonia, taking a certain medication).

Influenza Plus Hospitalization study: PI- Mark Beilke, MD:
An observational, prospective study that will enroll persons who are hospitalized with suspected or confirmed Influenza or other targeted non-influenza viral respiratory infections, such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. The purpose of the influenza hospitalization study is to obtain information on risk factors for mortality and other adverse outcomes, and to collect and store (bank) specimens for use in virus characterization, including subtyping, antigenic and genetic analyses, identification of signature mutations associated with antiviral drug resistance, mutational evolution, and additional re-assortment of the flu virus.

The main objective for the non-influenza respiratory virus study is to characterize initial cases and their outcomes in order to develop more specific protocols that could help in the prevention and treatment of these new infections.

  Behavioral and Community Research

Center for AIDS Intervention Research

Dr. Andrew Petroll is a clinical Infectious Disease Specialist and a faculty researcher at the Center for AIDS Intervention Research (CAIR). CAIR is a multidisciplinary HIV prevention research center that is supported by an AIDS research grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. CAIR also receives grant support from other sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Wisconsin AIDS/HIV Program, and the Medical College of Wisconsin. The research center is based in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine of the Medical College of Wisconsin. The research mission of the CAIR is to develop, conduct, and evaluate new interventions to prevent HIV among persons most vulnerable to the disease.

Dr. Petroll's research interests include how patients' risk behaviors for HIV transmission are addressed in clinical settings, how patient-physician interactions affect the disclosure and discussion of HIV risk behaviors, and how patient and physician characteristics influence such discussions. He is interested in studying the effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving HIV risk behavior discussions between health care providers and both HIV-negative and HIV-positive patients, assessing HIV testing behaviors within high-risk populations, and intervening to increase HIV testing. He is currently conducting a study that is evaluating medical providers' attitudes and experience with prescribing HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to patients at risk for acquiring HIV. Recent Publications

  Bench Research | Dr. Mark Beilke Laboratory at MCW and the Zablocki VA Medical Center

Dr. Beilke is Professor and Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center, where his laboratory is located. Dr. Beilke has a longstanding research interest in the co-interactions of HIV-1, HTLV-1 and HTLV-2, which are the first three human retroviruses isolated and characterized in the 1980's. Between 1991 and 2006 at Charity Hospital, New Orleans, Dr. Beilke conducted investigations on approximately 225 patients into an NIH-funded retrospective and prospective observational study. The research indicated that HTLV infections conferred a survival benefit among patients with HIV-HTLV co-infections.

The clinical research studies were prematurely curtailed as a result of Hurricane Katrina. However, the work resulted in sentinel clinical findings which lead to several peer reviewed publications. When Dr. Beilke joined the Medical College of Wisconsin, in 2006, he established a hypothesis driven laboratory study built upon data obtained from the clinical cohort study. The HTLV-2 viral transactivating protein, known as Tax2, is interesting because it appears to have potent effects on the human immune system. Not only does Tax2 upregulate CC-chemokines, it also down-regulates the CCR-5 chemokine receptor which is utilized by R5 tropic strains of HIV-1. The long term goal of Dr. Beilke's laboratory is to develop small peptides derived from the Tax2 amino acid sequence with potential therapeutic efficacy as immunomodulators and potential microbicides for protection of sexual transmission of HIV-1 and other sexually transmitted infections. Recent Publications

"Flower cell" from an HTLV-1 infected individual

"Flower cell" from an HTLV-1 infected individual - Shuh, M and Beilke, M (2005), Microscopy Research and Technique 68: 176-196.

  Bench Research | Dr. Jenifer Coburn - Translational Biomedical Research Center

The Coburn Lab is interested in how the pathogenic spirochetes Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira interrogans interact with mammalian cell surface receptors to facilitate establishment of disseminated infection. We use approaches from Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and classical Microbiology to identify specific host cell receptors, the bacterial proteins that bind those receptors, and to understand the consequences of those interactions. Work in the Coburn Lab is funded by 4 grants from the NIH. For more information and published lists, go to Coburn Lab.

Ixodes scapularis nymph, photograph taken by Dorothee Grimm, PhD

Ixodes scapularis nymph, photograph taken by Dorothee Grimm, PhD

Borrelia burgdorferi attached to a human platelet, photograph from Coburn et al, (1993) PNAS 90: 7059-7063

Borrelia burgdorferi attached to a human platelet, photograph from Coburn et al, (1993) PNAS 90: 7059-7063

Leptospira interrogans attached to human epithelial cell, photograph taken by Denise Martinez

Leptospira interrogans attached to human epithelial cell, photograph taken by Denise Martinez

  Bench Research | Dr. Michael Kron - Biotechnology & Bioengineering Center

Dr. Kron presently serves as the principal investigator on an NIH-NIAID funded collaborative study to identify actinomycete-derived natural compounds that might be useful in treating human filiarial diseases, which infect millions of persons in tropical regions of the world. This research includes cooperation among an international network of laboratories, including MCW, Michigan State University Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, European Molecular Biology Laboratory-Grenoble in France, Goeteborg University and Umea University in Sweden, and the University of the Philippines. The researchers are working to identify novel chemical scaffolds that inhibit recombinant parasite aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase (AARS). Dr. Kron had led a group focused on the natural products and biodiversity issues of terrestrial and marine organisms in the Philippines, which, with 7,100 islands, is considered one of five biodiversity hotpots worldwide. Dr. Kron has a broad array of international health work in his career, including as a consultant to the NIH-MSU-Sudan Medical Parasitology Program in Khartoum, fellow in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Geographic Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, a member of the core faculty for the MSU Genetics Program Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and as a visiting scientist for the NIH-Philippines Tropical Medicine Research Center in Manila. Dr. Kron has served as an advisor to the World Health Organization Special Program in Tropical Diseases, and has been a member of three National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases study sections on infectious diseases. He holds five MSU-U.S. patents related to assay development and anti-parasite drug discovery. In 2013-2014 Dr. Kron was appointed as a Senior Science Advisor to the US Department of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and supported USG activities related to the 2014 International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. For more information please visit the Kron Lab page. Recent Publications

  Clinical Trials at Froedtert Hospital, the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW)

As an academic institution, the Froedtert Hospital Infectious Disease clinic is able to offer opportunities to participate in a variety of clinical trials. MCW faculty are engaged in a variety of clinical research trials conducted in collaboration with research networks and industry sponsored-trials. Faculty also practice at the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin and are able to offer most of the clinical trials through that location as well.

INSIGHT - PI: Michael Frank, MD - The Medical College of Wisconsin's Division of Infectious Diseases has been an affiliate site for the International Network for Strategic Initiatives in Global HIV Trials (INSIGHT) as an enrolling site for the SMART trial (Strategies for the Management of Anti-Retroviral Therapy) which investigated whether it was better to treat patients with HIV continuously with antiretrovirals or to treat them episodically based on immune function.

In 2010, the START trial (Strategic Timing of Anti-Retroviral Treatment) began in order to determine the optimal timing of initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) with regard to morbidity and mortality among HIV-1 infected patients who are naïve to ART and have CD4 + cell counts greater than 500 cells/mm3. The START study has enrolled over 4,600 participants worldwide. This study randomizes participants into two study arms:

  1. Immediate initiation of ART
  2. Deferred ART until the participant’s CD4+ cell count decreases to less than 350 cells/mm3

This study will answer an important and controversial question regarding the optimal time to initiate antiretroviral therapy. Current guidelines recommend earlier initiation of ART, but no randomized-control trials have been done to address this important question.

INSIGHT is one of six HIV/AIDS clinical trial networks funded in 2006 by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a component of the National Institutes of Health. INSIGHT's mission is to define optimal strategies for the management of HIV and other infectious diseases through a global clinical research network. INSIGHT conducts studies worldwide.

Industry Sponsored Trials:

A number of faculty serve as Principal Investigators for industry-sponsored trials. These trials are often done to determine if drugs are safe and effective. Ongoing trials involve the following investigational agents:

  • Stribild for HIV -PI: Andrew Petroll, MD
  • STR Containing Tenofovir Alafenamide - PI: Andrew Petroll, MD

For more information about any of our HIV clinical trials, please contact Sonija Parker, Research Coordinator, at (414) 805-0708 or at or Nancy Grey, Research Assistant, at (414) 805-0747 or at

  Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology (MCW/FH)
  • Epidemiology of Saprophytic Fungi in the Health Care Environment
  • Molecular Epidemiology of Nosocomial Infections in Medical and Surgical Patients
  • Etiology and Microbial Pathogenesis of Biomedical Device-Associated Infections
  • Identification of Patient Risk Factors and Interventional Efforts for Improving Clinical Outcomes in the Critical Care Environment
  • Reduction of Sharps Injuries in the Operating Room Environment

MCW, Charles E. Edmiston, Jr., PhD

  • Evaluation of Innovative Methodologies to Reduce the Risk of Nosocomial Infections
  • In-Vitro Evaluation of New Anti-infectives and Antiseptic Skin-Prep Agents
  • Clinical Trials of New Anti-infectives in the Treatment of Mixed Microbial Infections
  Recent Publications

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Page Updated 01/25/2016