Current Research:

Our research foci are each centered on the examination of the mechanisms by which bacterial pathogens cause disease.  Our experimental model system is the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.  This human gastric pathogen infects the stomachs of nearly 50% of the world's population ( i.e. 3.5 BILLION people!!!).  This bacterium is the etiologic agent of gastric and duodenal ulcers, and infection with this bacterium is a very strong predisposing factor for the development of gastric cancers.
       One area of intense study in the lab are the mechanisms of how H. pylori senses its environment and alters its gene expression to respond to changing conditions.  Our lab uses mutant strains of H. pylori which have been "blinded" to features of their environment by destroying individual genes responsible for the sensory process.  We have identified several genes whose responses are altered in these mutants and students in the lab are currently examining the means of transcriptional regulation being used in these fascinating sensory and response networks.
      Another aspect of H. pylori pathogenesis that is a major focus of the lab is the regulation of expression of the numerous outer membrane proteins of this gram negative pathogen.  H. pylori is unusual in its number of genes for these types of proteins.  We hypothesize that part of the reason this bacterium can persist in the host stomach for decades is the proper regulation of these numerous proteins that help form the interface between the bacterium and the host!

  Mark H. Forsyth Ph.D.    

Professor of Biology 

Office - Room ISC 3051 

Lab - Room ISC 3066           

Telephone - Office (757) 221-2489

                                                            2018-19 Research Tribe!  
Back Row:  Mark Forsyth. Jordan Gregg, Justin Reed, Beau Hawkins, Catie Burgess. Seated: Danielle Jones,Athena Benton, Sanjana Challa, Elizabeth Do, Hermella Zerihun, Anna Xystros, Ryan Shipman, Maggie Trout.  Front Row: Kirsten Clamann, Marisa Duong, June Kim, Yessica Ayala-Bonilla. Also pictured:
The “Patron Saint” of W&M Microbiology, Professor Grace Blank!
Missing:  Olivia Tran, Sara Martinez, Caitlin Ling, Aaron Marcum