Gregory A Buck

Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, United States

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Publications (211)567.27 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vaginal lactobacilli can inhibit colonization by and growth of other bacteria, thereby preventing development of bacterial vaginosis (BV). Among the lactobacilli, Lactobacillus crispatus appears to be particularly effective at inhibiting growth of BV-associated bacteria. Nonetheless, some women who are colonized with this species can still develop clinical BV. Therefore, we sought to determine whether strains of L. crispatus that colonize women with lactobacilli-dominated vaginal microbiomes are distinct from strains that colonize women who develop BV. The genomes of L. crispatus isolates from 4 women with lactobacilli-dominated vaginal microbiomes (<1% 16S rRNA reads above threshold from genera other than Lactobacillus) and 4 women with microbiomes containing BV-associated bacteria (>12% 16S rRNA reads from bacterial taxa associated with BV) were sequenced and compared. Lactic acid production by the different strains was quantified. Phage induction in the strains was also analyzed. There was considerable genetic diversity between strains and several genes were exclusive to either the strains from Lactobacillus-dominated microbiomes or those containing BV-associated bacteria. Overall, strains from microbiomes dominated by lactobacilli did not differ from strains from microbiomes containing BV-associated bacteria with respect to lactic acid production. All of the strains contained multiple phages, but there was no clear distinction between presence or absence of BV-associated bacteria with respect to phage-induced lysis. Genes found to be exclusive to the Lactobacillus-dominated versus BV-associated bacteria-containing microbiomes could play a role in the maintenance of vaginal health and the development of BV, respectively.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Microbiology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent advances in next-generation sequencing have revolutionized genomic research. 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing using paired-end sequencing on the MiSeq platform from Illumina, Inc., is being used to characterize the composition and dynamics of extremely complex/diverse microbial communities. For this analysis on the Illumina platform, merging and quality filtering of paired-end reads are essential first steps in data analysis to ensure the accuracy and reliability of downstream analysis. We have developed the Merging and Filtering Tool (MeFiT) to combine these pre-processing steps into one simple, intuitive pipeline. MeFiT provides an open-source solution that permits users to merge and filter paired end illumina reads based on user-selected quality parameters. The tool has been implemented in python and the source-code is freely available at
    Preview · Article · Dec 2015
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cryptosporidium parvum and C. hominis are the most relevant species of this genus for human health. Both cause a self-limiting diarrhea in immunocompetent individuals, but cause potentially life-threatening disease in the immunocompromised. Despite the importance of these pathogens, only one reference genome of each has been analyzed and published. These two reference genomes were sequenced using automated capillary sequencing; as of yet, no next generation sequencing technology has been applied to improve their assemblies and annotations. For C. hominis, the main challenge that prevents a larger number of genomes to be sequenced is its resistance to axenic culture. In the present study, we employed next generation technology to analyse the genomic DNA and RNA to generate a new reference genome sequence of a C. hominis strain isolated directly from human stool and a new genome annotation of the C. parvum Iowa reference genome.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Scientific Reports
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stem cell transplants may be considered as dynamical systems to allow sequence differences across the exomes of the transplant donors and recipients to be used to simulate an alloreactive T cell response. Whole exome sequencing was performed on HLA matched stem cell transplant donor-recipient pairs, and the nucleotide sequence differences translated to peptides. The binding affinity of the peptides to the relevant HLA in each pair was determined. The resulting array of peptide-HLA binding affinity values in each patient was used to simulate an alloreactive donor derived T cell repertoire. This simulated T cell repertoire reproduces a number of features of clinically observed T cell repertoire. The simulated, alloreactive T cell repertoire was markedly different in HLA matched stem cell transplant donors and recipients and demonstrates a possible correlation with survival.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Biology of blood and marrow transplantation: journal of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation
  • No preview · Dataset · Jul 2015
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Trypanosoma cruzi is a complex of phenotypically and genetically diverse isolates distributed in six discrete typing units (DTUs) designated as TcI-TcVI. Five years ago, T. cruzi isolates from Brazilian bats showing unique patterns of traditional ribosomal and spliced leader PCRs not clustering into any of the six DTUs were designated as the Tcbat genotype. In the present study, phylogenies inferred using SSU rRNA (small subunit of ribosomal rRNA), gGAPDH (glycosomal glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase) and Cytb (cytochrome b) genes strongly supported Tcbat as a monophyletic lineage prevalent in Brazil, Panama and Colombia. Providing strong support for Tcbat, sequences from 37 of 47 nuclear and 12 mitochondrial genes (retrieved from a draft genome of Tcbat) and reference strains of all DTUs available in databanks corroborated Tcbat as an independent DTU. Consistent with previous studies, multilocus analysis of most nuclear genes corroborated the evolution of T. cruzi from bat trypanosomes its divergence into two main phylogenetic lineages: the basal TcII; and the lineage clustering TcIV, the clade comprising TcIII and the sister groups TcI-Tcbat. Most likely, the common ancestor of Tcbat and TcI was a bat trypanosome. However, the results of the present analysis did not support Tcbat as the ancestor of all DTUs. Despite the insights provided by reports of TcIII, TcIV and TcII in bats, including Amazonian bats harbouring TcII, further studies are necessary to understand the roles played by bats in the diversification of all DTUs. We also demonstrated that in addition to value as molecular markers for DTU assignment, Cytb, ITS rDNA and the spliced leader (SL) polymorphic sequences suggest spatially structured populations of Tcbat. Phylogenetic and phylogeographical analyses, multiple molecular markers specific to Tcbat, and the degrees of sequence divergence between Tcbat and the accepted DTUs strongly support the definitive classification of Tcbat as a new DTU.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Acta tropica
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective The oral cavity represents an initial entry way for oral and gut indigenous colonization. Skin-to-skin (STS) care, in which the mother holds the diaper clad naked preterm (PT) infant between her breasts, is associated with improved digestive function, decreased stress, and improved survival. This study evaluated the development of oral microbial colonization repertoires and health characteristics in PT infants with or without STS exposure. Methods Saliva from 42 PT infants (<32 weeks of gestation at birth) was collected prospectively at 1 month and/or at discharge. High-throughput 16S rRNA sequencing identified microbial diversity and prevalence of bacterial signatures correlated with clinical STS or non-STS care. Results Corrected for gestational age (CGA) at sampling, bacterial taxa demonstrated increased Streptococcus as a signature of oral repertoire maturation. STS was associated with increased Streptococcus (p < 0.024), while non-STS was associated with greater Corynebacterium (p < 0.023) and Pseudomonas (p < 0.019) in infants ≤ 32 weeks CGA. In infants > 32 weeks CGA, Neisseria and Acinetobacter were more prevalent, 50 vs. 16.7% and 40 vs. 0%, respectively. STS care was associated with shorter hospitalization (p < 0.039). Conclusion STS care during earlier gestation was associated with a distinct microbial pattern and an accelerated pace of oral microbial repertoire maturity. Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.
    No preview · Article · May 2015 · American Journal of Perinatology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Proline racemase (PRAC) enzymes of Trypanosoma cruzi (TcPRAC), the agent of Chagas disease, and Trypanosoma vivax (TvPRAC), the agent of livestock trypanosomosis, have been implicated in the B-cells polyclonal activation contributing to immunosuppression and the evasion of host defences. The similarity to prokaryotic PRAC and the absence in Trypanosoma brucei and Trypanosoma congolense have raised many questions about the origin, evolution, and functions of trypanosome PRAC (TryPRAC) enzymes. We identified TryPRAC homologs as single copy genes per haploid genome in 12 of 15 Trypanosoma species, including T. cruzi and T. cruzi marinkellei, T. dionisii, T. erneyi, T. rangeli, T. conorhini and T. lewisi, all parasites of mammals. Polymorphisms in TcPRAC genes matched T. cruzi genotypes: TcI-TcIV and Tcbat have unique genes, while the hybrids TcV and TcVI contain TcPRACA and TcPRACB from parental TcII and TcIII, respectively. PRAC homologs were identified in trypanosomes from anurans, snakes, crocodiles, lizards, and birds. Most trypanosomes have intact PRAC genes. T. rangeli possesses only pseudogenes, maybe in the process of being lost. T. brucei, T. congolense and their allied species, except the more distantly related T. vivax, have completely lost PRAC genes. The genealogy of TryPRAC homologs supports an evolutionary history congruent with the Trypanosoma phylogeny. This finding, together with the synteny of PRAC loci, the relationships with prokaryotic PRAC inferred by taxon-rich phylogenetic analysis, and the absence in trypanosomatids of any other genera or in bodonids or euglenids suggest that a common ancestor of Trypanosoma gained PRAC gene by a single and ancient horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from a Firmicutes bacterium more closely related to Gemella and other species of Bacilli than to Clostridium as previously suggested. Our broad phylogenetic study allowed investigation of TryPRAC evolution over long and short timescales. TryPRAC genes diverged to become species-specific and genotype-specific for T. cruzi and T. rangeli, with resulting genealogies congruent with those obtained using vertically inherited genes. The inventory of TryPRAC genes described here is the first step toward the understanding of the roles of PRAC enzymes in trypanosomes differing in life cycles, virulence, and infection and immune evasion strategies.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Parasites & Vectors
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background Characterizing microbial communities via next-generation sequencing is subject to a number of pitfalls involving sample processing. The observed community composition can be a severe distortion of the quantities of bacteria actually present in the microbiome, hampering analysis and threatening the validity of conclusions from metagenomic studies. We introduce an experimental protocol using mock communities for quantifying and characterizing bias introduced in the sample processing pipeline. We used 80 bacterial mock communities comprised of prescribed proportions of cells from seven vaginally-relevant bacterial strains to assess the bias introduced in the sample processing pipeline. We created two additional sets of 80 mock communities by mixing prescribed quantities of DNA and PCR product to quantify the relative contribution to bias of (1) DNA extraction, (2) PCR amplification, and (3) sequencing and taxonomic classification for particular choices of protocols for each step. We developed models to predict the “true” composition of environmental samples based on the observed proportions, and applied them to a set of clinical vaginal samples from a single subject during four visits. Results We observed that using different DNA extraction kits can produce dramatically different results but bias is introduced regardless of the choice of kit. We observed error rates from bias of over 85% in some samples, while technical variation was very low at less than 5% for most bacteria. The effects of DNA extraction and PCR amplification for our protocols were much larger than those due to sequencing and classification. The processing steps affected different bacteria in different ways, resulting in amplified and suppressed observed proportions of a community. When predictive models were applied to clinical samples from a subject, the predicted microbiome profiles were better reflections of the physiology and diagnosis of the subject at the visits than the observed community compositions. Conclusions Bias in 16S studies due to DNA extraction and PCR amplification will continue to require attention despite further advances in sequencing technology. Analysis of mock communities can help assess bias and facilitate the interpretation of results from environmental samples. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-015-0351-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · BMC Microbiology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Microbial invasion of the amniotic cavity is associated with spontaneous preterm labor and adverse pregnancy outcome and Mycoplasma hominis is often present. However, the pathogenic process by which M. hominis invades the amniotic cavity and gestational tissues, often resulting in chorioamnionitis and preterm birth, remains unknown. We hypothesized that strains of M. hominis vary genetically with regards to their potential to invade and colonize the amniotic cavity and placenta. We sequenced the entire genomes of two amniotic fluid isolates and a placental isolate of M. hominis from pregnancies that resulted in preterm births, and compared them to the previously sequenced genome of the Type strain PG21. We identified genes specific to the amniotic fluid/placental isolates. We then determined the microbial burden and the presence of these genes in another set of subjects, from whom samples of amniotic fluid had been collected and were positive for M. hominis. We identified two genes encoding surface-located membrane proteins (Lmp1 and Lmp-like) in the sequenced amniotic fluid/placental isolates that were severely truncated in PG21. We also identified, for the first time, a microbial gene of unknown function referred to in this study as gene of interest C (goiC), that was significantly associated with bacterial burden in amniotic fluid and the risk of preterm delivery in patients with preterm labor. A gene in M. hominis was identified that is significantly associated with colonization and/or infection of the upper reproductive tract during pregnancy and with preterm birth. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Deep sequence analysis of the vaginal microbiome is revealing an unexpected complexity that was not anticipated as recently as several years ago. The lack of clarity in the definition of a healthy vaginal microbiome, much less an unhealthy vaginal microbiome, underscores the need for more investigation of these phenomena. Some clarity may be gained by the careful analysis of the genomes of the specific bacteria in these women. Ongoing studies will clarify this process and offer relief for women with recurring vaginal maladies and hope for pregnant women to avoid the experience of preterm birth. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Clinics in Laboratory Medicine
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Humans are colonized by thousands of bacterial species, but it is difficult to assess the metabolic and pathogenic potential of the majority of these because they have yet to be cultured. Here, we characterize an uncultivated vaginal mycoplasma tightly associated with trichomoniasis that was previously known by its 16S rRNA sequence as "Mnola." In this study, the mycoplasma was found almost exclusively in women infected with the sexually transmitted pathogen Trichomonas vaginalis, but rarely observed in women with no diagnosed disease. The genomes of four strains of this species were reconstructed using metagenome sequencing and assembly of DNA from four discrete mid-vaginal samples, one of which was obtained from a pregnant woman with trichomoniasis who delivered prematurely. These bacteria harbor several putative virulence factors and display unique metabolic strategies. Genes encoding proteins with high similarity to potential virulence factors include two collagenases, a hemolysin, an O-sialoglycoprotein endopeptidase and a feoB-type ferrous iron transport system. We propose the name "Candidatus Mycoplasma girerdii" for this potential new pathogen.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Much has been learned about the diversity and distribution of human-associated microbial communities, but we still know little about the biology of the microbiome, how it interacts with the host, and how the host responds to its resident microbiota. The Integrative Human Microbiome Project (iHMP,, the second phase of the NIH Human Microbiome Project, will study these interactions by analyzing microbiome and host activities in longitudinal studies of disease-specific cohorts and by creating integrated data sets of microbiome and host functional properties. These data sets will serve as experimental test beds to evaluate new models, methods, and analyses on the interactions of host and microbiome. Here we describe the three models of microbiome-associated human conditions, on the dynamics of preterm birth, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 2 diabetes, and their underlying hypotheses, as well as the multi-omic data types to be collected, integrated, and distributed through public repositories as a community resource.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Cell Host & Microbe
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Women of European ancestry are more likely to harbour a Lactobacillus-dominated microbiome, whereas African American women are more likely to exhibit a diverse microbial profile. African American women are also twice as likely to be diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis and are twice as likely to experience preterm birth. The objective of this study was to further characterize and contrast the vaginal microbial profiles in African American versus European ancestry women. Through the Vaginal Human Microbiome Project at Virginia Commonwealth University, 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis was used to compare the microbiomes of vaginal samples from 1268 African American women and 416 women of European ancestry. The results confirmed significant differences in the vaginal microbiomes of the two groups and identified several taxa relevant to these differences. Major community types were dominated by Gardnerella vaginalis and the uncultivated bacterial vaginosis-associated bacterium-1 (BVAB1) that were common among African Americans. Moreover, the prevalence of multiple bacterial taxa that are associated with microbial invasion of the amniotic cavity and preterm birth, including Mycoplasma, Gardnerella, Prevotella and Sneathia, differed between the two ethnic groups. We investigated the contributions of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, including pregnancy, body mass index, diet, smoking and alcohol use, number of sexual partners, and household income, to vaginal community composition. Ethnicity, pregnancy and alcohol use correlated significantly with the relative abundance of bacterial vaginosis-associated species. Trends between microbial profiles and smoking and number of sexual partners were observed; however, these associations were not statistically significant. These results support and extend previous findings that there are significant differences in the vaginal microbiome related to ethnicity and demonstrate that these differences are pronounced even in healthy women.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2014 · Microbiology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Donor T cell mediated graft vs. host effects may result from the aggregate alloreactivity to minor histocompatibility antigens (mHA) presented by the HLA in each donor-recipient pair (DRP) undergoing stem cell transplantation (SCT). Whole exome sequencing has demonstrated extensive nucleotide sequence variation in HLA-matched DRP. Non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (nsSNPs) in the GVH direction (polymorphisms present in recipient and absent in donor) were identified in 4 HLA-matched related and 5 unrelated DRP. The nucleotide sequence flanking each SNP was obtained utilizing the ANNOVAR software package. All possible nonameric-peptides encoded by the non-synonymous SNP were then interrogated in-silico for their likelihood to be presented by the HLA class I molecules in individual DRP, using the Immune-Epitope Database (IEDB) SMM algorithm. The IEDB-SMM algorithm predicted a median 18,396 peptides/DRP which bound HLA with an IC50 of <500nM, and 2254 peptides/DRP with an IC50 of <50nM. Unrelated donors generally had higher numbers of peptides presented by the HLA. A similarly large library of presented peptides was identified when the data was interrogated using the Net MHCPan algorithm. These peptides were uniformly distributed in the various organ systems. The bioinformatic algorithm presented here demonstrates that there may be a high level of minor histocompatibility antigen variation in HLA-matched individuals, constituting an HLA-specific alloreactivity potential. These data provide a possible explanation for how relatively minor adjustments in GVHD prophylaxis yield relatively similar outcomes in HLA matched and mismatched SCT recipients.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Frontiers in Immunology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bayesian-like operational taxonomic unit examiner (BOTUX) is a new tool for the classification of 16S rRNA gene sequences into operational taxonomic units (OTUs) that addresses the problem of overestimation caused by errors introduced during PCR amplification and DNA sequencing steps. BOTUX utilises a grammar-based assignment strategy, where Bayesian models are built from each word of a given length (e.g., 8-mers). de novo analysis is possible with BOTUX as it does not require a training set, and updates probabilistic models as new sequences are recruited to an OTU. In benchmarking tests performed with real and simulated datasets of 16S rDNA sequences, BOTUX accurately identifies OTUs with comparable or better clustering efficiency and lower execution times than other OTU algorithms tested. BOTUX is the only OTU classifier, which allows incremental analysis of large datasets, and is also adept in clustering both 454 and Illumina datasets in a reasonable timeframe.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Whole exome sequencing (WES) was performed on stem cell transplant donor-recipient (D-R) pairs to determine the extent of potential antigenic variation at a molecular level. In a small cohort of D-R pairs, a high frequency of sequence variation was observed between the donor and recipient exomes independent of human leucocyte antigen (HLA) matching. Nonsynonymous, nonconservative single nucleotide polymorphisms were approximately twice as frequent in HLA-matched unrelated, compared with related D-R pairs. When mapped to individual chromosomes, these polymorphic nucleotides were uniformly distributed across the entire exome. In conclusion, WES reveals extensive nucleotide sequence variation in the exomes of HLA-matched donors and recipients.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · British Journal of Haematology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Melatonin is a ubiquitous molecule and exists across kingdoms including plant species. Studies on melatonin in plants have mainly focused on its physiological influence on growth and development, and on its biosynthesis. Much less attention has been drawn to its affect on genome-wide gene expression. To comprehensively investigate the role(s) of melatonin at the genomics level, we utilized mRNA-seq technology to analyze Arabidopsis plants subjected to a 16-hour 100 pM (low) and 1 mM (high) melatonin treatment. The expression profiles were analyzed to identify differentially expressed genes. 100 pM melatonin treatment significantly affected the expression of only 81 genes with 51 down-regulated and 30 up-regulated. However, 1 mM melatonin significantly altered 1308 genes with 566 up-regulated and 742 down-regulated. Not all genes altered by low melatonin were affected by high melatonin, indicating different roles of melatonin in regulation of plant growth and development under low and high concentrations. Furthermore, a large number of genes altered by melatonin were involved in plant stress defense. Transcript levels for many stress receptors, kinases, and stress-associated calcium signals were up-regulated. The majority of transcription factors identified were also involved in plant stress defense. Additionally, most identified genes in ABA, ET, SA and JA pathways were up-regulated, while genes pertaining to auxin responses and signaling, peroxidases, and those associated with cell wall synthesis and modifications were mostly down-regulated. Our results indicate critical roles of melatonin in plant defense against various environmental stresses, and provide a framework for functional analysis of genes in melatonin-mediated signaling pathways.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Outcomes in stem cell transplantation (SCT) are modeled using probability theory. However the clinical course following SCT appears to demonstrate many characteristics of dynamical systems, especially when outcomes are considered in the context of immune reconstitution. Dynamical systems tend to evolve over time according to mathematically determined rules. Characteristically, the future states of the system are predicated on the states preceding them, and there is sensitivity to initial conditions. In SCT, the interaction between donor T cells and the recipient may be considered as such a system in which, graft source, conditioning and early immunosuppression profoundly influence immune reconstitution over time. This eventually determines clinical outcomes, either the emergence of tolerance or the development of graft versus host disease. In this paper parallels between SCT and dynamical systems are explored and a conceptual framework for developing mathematical models to understand disparate transplant outcomes is proposed.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · Frontiers in Immunology
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    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation

Publication Stats

5k Citations
567.27 Total Impact Points


  • 1989-2012
    • Virginia Commonwealth University
      • • Center for the Study of Biological Complexity
      • • Department of Microbiology & Immunology
      Richmond, Virginia, United States
  • 1999
    • Harvard University
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1997
    • Northern Virginia Community College - Medical Campus
      Спрингфилд, Virginia, United States
  • 1994
    • The University of Calgary
      Calgary, Alberta, Canada