The Re-emergence of Whooping Cough

In 2013 4-VA awarded Dr. Louise Temple and Dr. Erik Hewlett a grant called Laying the groundwork for a viral detection system for pertussis (whooping cough) diagnosis. The project leveraged expertise at two Virginia universities to isolate viruses that can be developed as tools to detect Bordatella pertussis—the cause of whooping cough—in humans. After identifying potential bacteriophages that can be developed into such tools they obtained the sequence of the virus.

In 2016 4-VA awarded Dr. Temple and Dr. Josh Eby a grant called A Virginia collaborative effort to analyze genomes of recent whooping cough bacteria where faculty and students at UVA and JMU worked together to analyze genetic sequences of bacteria isolated from Virginia residents who have contracted whooping cough over the last 15 years.

Students were trained in bioinformatics and development of new tools to manipulate the unusual genomic structure of the causative agent of whooping cough, Bordetella pertussis. B. pertussis exhibits remarkable genome plasticity, requiring the novel techniques for analysis that will result from this work. Because genetic adaptation in B. pertussis has contributed to the reemergence of whooping cough, the tools built during this process will address an issue important to the health of Virginians.

Dr. Louise Temple
Professor of Integrated Science & Technology

Dr. Stephen Turner
Assistant Professor of Public Health
Director of the School of Medicine’s Bioinformatics Core

Dr. Joshua Eby
Assistant Professor of Medicine

Grant Info

  • 2013 – JMU and UVA were awarded $5,000 for Laying the groundwork for a viral detection system for pertussis (whooping cough) diagnosis.

  • 2016 – JMU and UVA were awarded $7,000 for A Virginia collaborative effort to analyze genomes of recent whooping cough bacteria.

Benefits To The Commonwealth

Demonstrated growth in biotechnology

Demonstrated Virginia’s impact on major global health issues

Contributed to health and medical solutions

Students trained in bioinformatics and development of new tools

The tools built addressed an issue important to the health of Virginians

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