After completing his fellowship in hematopathology, Dr. Olsen became an Instructor in Houston Methodist Research Institute. He was recently awarded a Fellow-to-Faculty transition award from the American Heart Association to investigate virulence genetics in group A Streptococcus. The study will focus on why certain strains are more capable of causing necrotizing fasciitis, or the devastating “flesh eating” disease. He is a member of several professional societies.
The research in Dr. Olsen’s laboratory is focused on studying the molecular pathogenesis of invasive group A Streptococcus (GAS) infections such as necrotizing fasciitis (NF, also termed the “flesh eating infection”). During the past several years, there have been marked advances in the study of GAS genetics and epidemiology, but overall knowledge of the key molecular pathways and host-pathogen interactions mediating GAS virulence in invasive deep soft tissue infections remains largely incomplete. Previous studies in the Musser laboratory suggest that the metal transporter of the Streptococcus regulator (mtsR) regulatory gene and/or the genes under its control (the “mtsR Axis”) may play an important role in GAS NF. Dr. Olsen’s laboratory uses an integrated molecular approach to study the “mtsR Axis” in GAS NF. Affymetrix GAS gene expression microarray analysis, Luminex-based human serum protein profiling, tissue microarray examination, flow cytometric analysis, in vivo molecular imaging, quantitative microbial culture, and in vitro immunologic assays will be used for the detailed study of specimens derived from preclinical models and human patients. The long-term goal is to leverage knowledge gained to aid the development of new diagnostic tools, vaccine strategies, and therapeutic agents that will significantly improve patient care.