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Dr. Özlem Yilmaz' laboratory focuses on opportunistic bacteria and host interaction. Her lab is particularly interested in the molecular underpinnings of a major oral pathogen, Porphyromonas gingivalis in evasion of host cell anti-microbial response and survival in the gingival epithelial mucosa using advanced human primary cell systems and transgenic mouse-models. Dr. Yilmaz' lab is one of the a few research teams in the US dedicated to uncovering the complex interplay between host epithelium and periodontopathic bacteria in the induction of microbial dysbiosis and pathophysiology in oral mucosa. Chronic infection by P. gingivalis, an important invasive bacterium, can specifically contribute to a series of severe chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and orodigestive cancers. Investigating the cellular persistence of this pathogen within host can lead to development of rational treatment strategies for P. gingivalis-associated diseases.

Check Out Our Feature on NIH!

Our work was selected by the NIH to be included in their Image Gallery

Dr. Yilmaz became an Overseas Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine

Dr. Özlem Yilmaz was honored to become an Overseas Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, England in 2017. The society is one of the U.K.’s major providers of postgraduate medical education. The Society promotes an exchange of information and ideas on the science, practice and organisation of medicine.

Ayana Paul graduated PREP, and enters into Emory's PhD Program in Microbiology 

Ayana Paul completed her Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) as part of the 2021-2022 cohort, and will pursue her PhD in Microbiology/Molecular Genetics at Emory University.

Bridgette Wellslager was awarded NIH NRSA F31 Pre-Doctoral Grant
Bridgette in AADOCR.jpg

Congratulations to Bridgette Wellslager, a PhD Candidate, who was recently awarded the prestigious F31 Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Grant from NIDCR.

Jaden Lee received first place in the 2022 AADOCR Hatton Competition

Jaden Lee, a DMD/PhD candidate, won first place in the AADOCR Hatton Competition for his novel research presentation. He will be presenting at the 2022 IADR Hatton Competition in China.

JoAnn Roberts was awarded NIH NRSA F31 Pre-Doctoral Grant

Congratulations to JoAnn Roberts, a PhD Candidate, who was recently awarded the prestigious F31 Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Grant Award from the NIDCR.

Jaden Lee was awarded prestigious AADR Student Research Fellowship

Jaden Lee, a DMD/PhD candidate, has won an AADR STudent Research Award to supplement his current research and travel to the next AADR meetings.

Jaden Lee was awarded NIH NRSA F30 Pre-Doctoral Grant
Jaden and Dr. Yilmaz in IADR meeting in

Congratulations to Jaden Lee, DMD/PhD candidate in our lab! Jaden was recently awarded an NIH F30 Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award from NIDCR.

Microbes and Infection: Special Issue

In July 2015, Dr. Yilmaz edited a special issue in Microbes and Infection, Institut Pasteur, that focuses on oral pathogens and microbiome in health and disease. 

JoAnn Roberts received a scholarship to study redox biology in Karolinska Institutet

JoAnn Roberts, a PhD candidate, was granted a scholarship to study redox biology in Summer 2017 at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. 

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Casey Derieux starts her PhD Program in Marine Microbiology at the University of Delaware

Recent Selected Publications

Our research specialist, Casey in the Yilmaz Laboratory will be pursuing her PhD in Marine Microbiology at the University of Delaware.

  • Patel S, Howard D, Chowdhury N, Derieux C, Wellslager B, Yilmaz O, and French L (2021). Characterization of human genes modulated by Porphyromonas gingivalis highlights the ribosome, hypothalamus, and cholinergic neurons. Front Immunol. 12:646259. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.646259

  • Lee, JS, Yilmaz, O (2020). Key Elements of Gingival Epithelial Homeostasis upon Bacterial Interaction. Invited Review, Critical Reviews in Oral Biology & Medicine Section. Journal of Dental Res. Nov 17;22034520973012. doi: 10.1177/0022034520973012.

  • Lee, JS, Chowdhury N, Roberts, JS, and Yilmaz O (2020). Host surface ectonucleotidase-CD73 and the opportunistic pathogen, Porphyromonas gingivalis, cross-modulation underlies a new homeostatic mechanism for chronic bacterial survival in human epithelial cells. Virulence. 11:414-429. doi: 10.1080/21505594.2020.1763061.

  • Lee J, Spooner R, Chowdhury N, Pandey V, Wellslager B, Atanasova K, Evans Z, Yilmaz O (2020). In Situ Intraepithelial Localizations of Opportunistic Pathogens, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Filifactor alocis, in Human Gingiva. Current Research in Microbial Sciences. 1, 7-17. doi: 10.1016/j.crmicr.2020.05.001.

  • Olsen I and Yilmaz O (2019). Possible role of Porphyromonas gingivalis in orodigestive cancers. J Oral Microbiol. Jan 9;11(1):1563410. doi: 10.1080/20002297.2018.1563410. eCollection 2019.

  • Lee K, Roberts JS, Choi C, Atanasova KR, Yilmaz O (2018) Porphyromonas gingivalis Traffics into Endoplasmic Reticulum-Rich-Autophagosomes for Successful Survival in Human Gingival Epithelial Cells, Virulence  April 4:1-26. doi:10.1080/21505594.2018.1454171

  • Lee JN, Roberts JS, Atanasova KR, Chowdhury N and Yilmaz O (2018) A Novel Kinase Function of a Nucleoside-diphosphate-kinase Homolog in P.  gingivalis is Critical in Subversion of Host Cell Apoptosis by Targeting Heat-Shock Protein 27, Cellular Microbiology, Jan 22. doi: 10.1111/cmi.1282.