"michelle visser".

Michelle Visser B. PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Oral Biology

320 Foster Hall

Buffalo, NY 14214




The oral cavity is a unique environment, with large numbers of bacteria present as a polymicrobial biofilm in close contact with host tissues including epithelial cells, connective cells and underlying immune cells. One group of bacteria associated with this biofilm are oral spirochetes, such as Treponema denticola. One area of research in my laboratory focuses on determining how T. denticola and other spirochetes remain “under the radar” to evade the normally protective neutrophil response and impair associated key cellular processes such as directed cell migration (chemotaxis) and actin dynamics. 

Projects ongoing include: 
1. Investigation of how the major outer sheath protein (Msp) of T. denticola modulates host cell lipid signalling molecules called phosphoinositides, resulting in impaired cell migration and actin-remodelling.

2. Using global approaches including microarray and proteomics to: 
a. Identify additional spirochete virulence factors that modulate neutrophil function.
b. Identify neutrophil pathways impacted by exposure to oral pathogens. 

Additionally, my laboratory is interested in investigating microbial pathogenesis mechanisms allowing for bacteria to survive and cause disease and related tissue damage. Specific areas of research are:
1. Iron transport and regulation in oral bacteria.
2. Bacterial cell communication and signaling systems.