Thirumalai R. Kannan, Ph.D.

Thirumalai R. Kannan, Ph.D.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Thirumalai R. Kannan, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Kannan’s research mainly focuses on the complex interaction between bacterial pathogens and host cells. His laboratory studies the pathogenesis of two important human pathogens, Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Mycoplasma genitalium. Despite their very small genomes Mycoplasmas have developed unique ways to interact with their hosts. During their co-evolutionary balance mycoplasmas have evolved an array of virulence factors well suited to counteract a variety of host-cell responses in order to adhere/invade, survive and replicate within their hosts. His research focuses on identifying and characterizing the mycoplasma virulence determinants involved in these interactions as well as the molecular, cellular and immunobiology of these processes. The approaches comprise bacterial genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, animal models and imaging.

Specific areas of interest include:

- Study the mechanism of pathogenesis of M. pneumoniae through "Community acquired respiratory distress syndrome (CARDS) toxin," a toxin exclusively produced by M. pneumoniae.

- Study the mechanisms by which M. genitalium adheres, internalizes and survives within host cells. In particular, understanding how this bacterium exploits host-cell machinery to gain access to the cell.