Rita Tamayo, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Dr. Rita Tamayo completed her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and conducted her postdoctoral research at Tufts University School of Medicine. She is Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine and a UNC Simmons Scholar. Tamayo’s lab studies the regulatory mechanisms controlling the motility and virulence of Clostridium difficile, the most common cause of nosocomial infections in the United States and an urgent public health threat. Her lab has characterized the role of the bacterial signaling molecule c-di-GMP and its RNA-based sensors (riboswitches) in controlling multiple modes of C. difficile motility, as well as cytotoxin production. In addition, her group is defining the mechanisms of phase variation and determining the consequences of the resulting phenotypic heterogeneity to C. difficile physiology and pathogenesis. Tamayo serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Bacteriology and Infection and Immunity, as an associate editor for Frontiers in Microbiology and as an ad hoc reviewer for many ASM and other journals.