Education and Professional Standing
- PhD Microbiology, University of Guelph, 1989
- BSc (Hons) Botany, University of Colombo (Sri Lanka), 1980
Research and Clinical Focus
My primary research interest is in two areas of molecular microbiology. (A) The molecular aspects of antimicrobial drug resistance in gram-negative bacterial pathogens. This includes (1) characterization of antimicrobial drug resistance determinants and determination of their mechanism of action, (2) to study the development of drug resistances under antibiotic selection pressure in the environment, and (3) to monitor the gene transfer and dissemination of resistance genes, especially in the nosocomial environment. (B) To develop and evaluate novel, rapid, cost effective molecular diagnostic methods that can be used to identify etiologic agents of infectious diseases and to determine antibiotic resistant determinants. Such methods are essential to improve the diagnostic performance of clinical microbiology laboratory and thereby to improve patient management.
During the last five years, I have been engaged in an ongoing research study in collaboration with colleagues from the University of West Indies (Trinidad and Tobago) to examine the molecular epidemiology and molecular evolution of clinical isolates of MRSA and Extended-Spectrum beta Lactamase (ESBL) producing gram-negative bacteria (i.e. E. coli and K. pneumoniae). I am also actively involved with ongoing collaborative research efforts with colleagues in the Environmental Biology Department at the University of Guelph to determine the possible link between antibiotic resistance in the environment and the clinically antibiotic resistance organisms. In addition to the aforementioned projects, I am collaborating with a number of colleagues at McMaster University on a research project to monitor antibiotic resistance genes in the Greater Toronto Area Beaches.
I have been actively involved with research and development of novel, rapid nucleic acid-based diagnostic methods that can be used cost-effectively in the routine clinical laboratory to improve patient management. I have been instrumental in developing and implementing a number of PCR-based molecular methods to detect bacterial pathogens, antibiotic resistant genes, and to type bacterial strains. This implementation has considerably reduced the turn-around time and technologists time. It has also prevented the number of nosocomial outbreaks. As a result, there have been significant savings to the laboratory and the hospital.
Since my faculty appointment as Assistant Professor for the Department of Pathology, I have been actively involved in teaching Medical Microbiology and Principles and Applications of Molecular Techniques in Clinical Diagnostics to a variety of students. I have made yearly teaching contributions to two undergraduate courses. I act as course coordinator for a fourth year Medical Microbiology course (BIO 4P03) for the Molecular Biology Program and I give lectures for a second year Medical Microbiology course (HTH SCI 2HH3) for the Nursing Program. I also teach for Mohawk and McMaster Applied Health Sciences where I train Medical Laboratory technologists in their continuing education programs.
I am also actively with the MD undergraduate program at McMaster University. My involvement includes tutoring Unit 1 and Medical Foundation 4 (MF4) problem-based learning tutorial groups, conducting Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease resource sessions, and supervising block electives. I am also involved with teaching a variety of medical residents (i.e. Medical Microbiology, Infectious Diseases, General and Anatomic Pathology and Biochemistry) during their academic half-days and in their molecular microbiology rotations where they learn principles and applications of molecular techniques in clinical diagnosis. Since 2006, I have also been acting as the coordinator for the medical microbiology education committee for the Pathology Residency Program.
M. Smieja, C. Lee, J. Trevors, H. Lee