Research Bench Lab
Christopher Kristich, PhD

Christopher J. Kristich, PhD

Professor; Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research


  • Translational and Biomedical Research Center
    TBRC C3930

Contact Information

General Interests

Antibiotic Resistance, Bacterial Genetics and Physiology, Bacterial Signal Transduction, Intestinal Colonization


PhD, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Research Interests

We use a combination of genetics, biochemistry, genomics, molecular biology, and structural biology to study several interrelated problems in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. We primarily focus on enterococci, which are bacteria that both inhabit the intestinal tract and cause untreatable, antibiotic-resistant infections.

Genetic and biochemical basis for antibiotic resistance. We seek to define the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which enterococci overcome antibiotic treatment. In doing so, we will identify new targets for antibacterial molecules that disable antibiotic resistance, thereby providing an opportunity to restore the effectiveness of our existing antibiotics against untreatable infections.

Bacterial signal transduction. We are exploring the mechanisms by which enterococci sense changes in their environment and mount adaptive biological responses, including transmembrane Ser/Thr kinases and two-component signaling systems. We define signaling pathway components, signaling networks, conformational changes in signaling proteins, post-translational modifications that impact signal transduction, and effector outputs.

Bacterial cell wall synthesis. The enterococcal cell wall is essential for bacterial survival. We are defining mechanisms and regulation of cell wall synthesis, with the long-term goal of identifying weak points that can serve as targets for new antibiotics to treat antibiotic-resistant enterococcal infections.

Intestinal colonization. We are exploring the dynamics and molecular mechanisms of intestinal colonization by enterococci. We study how enterococci establish a foothold in the competitive intestinal environment, and how enterococcal populations in the intestine change in response to antibiotics and other environmental perturbations.