Associate Professor
Microbiology & Immunology | Faculty of Science
Research Interests:

I am interested in the molecular mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis, particularly the mechanisms that allow colonization and carriage of Bordetella pertussis. B. pertussis is the Gram negative bacterium that causes whooping cough (pertussis). Humans are the only naturally infected host and there is no environmental reservoir. Despite being a “vaccine-success story”, pertussis remains an important disease with annual worldwide estimates approaching 20 million cases and 300,000 deaths. Although most cases of pertussis can be prevented by vaccination, neither vaccination, nor natural infection generates life-long immunity, underscoring the need for alternative vaccine strategies or inexpensive booster vaccines that can be administered safely on a global scale. Why we do not mount a long-lasting, sterilizing immune response to B. pertussis is not known.

Relevant NGDI Articles


Complete Bordetella avium, Bordetella hinzii and   Bordetella trematum lipid A structures and genomic sequence analyses of the loci involved in their  modifications. Novikov A, Shah NR, Albitar-Nehme S, Basheer SM, Trento I, Tirsoaga A, Moksa M, Hirst M, Perry MB, Hamidi AE, Fernandez RC, Caroff M. Innate Immun. 0 (0):1-14 2013 Oct 14.

Draft Genome Sequences of Bordetella hinzii and Bordetella trematum. Shah NR, Moksa M, Novikov A, Perry MB, Hirst M, Caroff M, Fernandez RC. Genome Announc. 2013 Oct 24;1(5). pii: e00838-13.

Minor modifications to the phosphate groups and the C3′ acyl chain length of lipid A in two Bordetella pertussis strains, BP338 and 18-323, independently affect Toll-like receptor 4 protein activation. Shah NR, Albitar-Nehme S, Kim E, Marr N, Novikov A, Caroff M, Fernandez RC. J Biol Chem. 2013 Apr 26;288(17):11751-60.

Recognition of lipid A variants by the TLR4-MD-2 receptor complex. Maeshima N, Fernandez RC. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2013 Feb 12;3:3.  eCollection 2013. Review.


Airborne transmission of bordetella pertussis demonstrated in a baboon model of whooping cough. Fernandez RC. J Infect Dis 2012 206(6):808-810.


Bordetella pertussis autotransporter Vag8 bind human C1 Esterase inhibitor and confers serum resistance. Marr N, Shah NR, Lee R, Kim EJ, and Fernandez RC. PLoS One 2011, 6:e20585.