Ian Francis

OMD/PhD in Microbiology

BS, University of Denver

Wetzler Lab

My interests lie in vaccine development. As a member of the Wetzler Lab, I am involved in the development of vaccines towards the human pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Ng), the causative agent of the sexually transmitted disease, gonorrhea.  Over 300,000 cases of gonorrhea are reported per year in the US, with estimates that the disease burden may be twice as much.  Worldwide there are estimates that there are over 60 million cases worldwide. Gonorrhea can present as urethritis in men and more seriously, pelvic inflammatory disease with infertility as a possible outcome in women. While this disease is treatable with antibiotics, the rapid development of resistance has led the CDC to identify Ng as an “immediate public health threat that requires urgent and aggressive action” towards new therapeutics and vaccines. This drive for innovation faces a significant challenge in the human-specific adaptations of Ng. We are working with our collaborators to develop a humanized transgenic mouse model of disease that will serve as the platform for our future testing of Neisseria gonorrhoeae vaccine antigen candidates, which we are currently evaluating.