Bacterial infections result in considerable illness (morbidity) and mortality in humans, farm animals, and pets. Most infectious diseases affecting humans can be traced to animals. Resistance to antibiotics among these bacteria complicates the therapeutic management of their infections. As a result, new treatments and prevention methods (for example, vaccines) are needed to prevent bacterial infections and increase food safety in the future.
Dr. Mellata’s research interests lie in the areas of pathogenesis of bacterial diseases and vaccine development. The long-term goal of the research program is to develop effective intervention strategies against bacterial infections and mitigate antibiotic resistance. Her actual projects are directed towards understanding the molecular pathogenesis and zoonotic potential of foodborne bacteria, including Escherichia coli and Salmonella and developing vaccines to control their infections in food-producing animals (i.e. chickens) and humans. Her research will benefit both human health and agricultural animal production and will enhance food safety by reducing the transmission of bacteria through the animal-food production pipeline.