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Joseph J Gillespie
Dr. Gillespie is an evolutionary biologist with broad interests in organismal and molecular evolution. The major focus of his current research is deciphering the mechanisms by which obligate intracellular species of Rickettsiales (Alphaproteobacteria) invade, survive and replicate within eukaryotic cells.
In research funded by the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Gillespie utilizes phylogenetics, comparative genomics and bioinformatics to guide experimental research on various pathogenic species of Rickettsia and their associated arthropod vectors. His early research resulted in the reclassification of Rickettsia species and the identification of many lineage-specific pathogenicity factors. Through years of intense scrutinization of dozens of diverse rickettsial genomes, Dr. Gillespie and colleagues have described a large, dynamic mobilome for Rickettsia species, resulting in the identification of integrative conjugative elements as the vehicles for seeding Rickettsia genomes with many of the factors underlying obligate intracellular biology and pathogenesis. Via an iterative process of genome sequencing, phylogenomics, bioinformatics, and classical molecular biology and microbiology, Dr. Gillespie continues to lead and assist research projects on the characterization of rickettsial gene and protein function.