David Hunstad

Professor of Pediatrics, Division Chief - Division of Infectious Diseases, Professor of Molecular Microbiology, Arnold W Strauss, MD Endowed Professorship For Mentoring

    Willing to Mentor

    Available to Mentor:

    PhD/MSTP Students

    • 3386
      Citations
    1995 …2023

    Research activity per year

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    Personal profile

    Research interests

    Work in our lab focuses on the interactions of pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria with their hosts, using urinary tract infection (UTI) as our primary model. We aim to elucidate host-pathogen interactions in the urinary tract, modulation of host immune responses by uropathogenic bacteria, and the influence of sex on UTI pathogenesis.

    We have developed new models of mouse UTI which enable first-ever studies of sex differences in UTI pathogenesis and host response. We have used this model to demonstrate that uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) establish biofilm-like communities within kidney tubules during renal abscess formation, and that androgen receptor signaling drives increased severity of UTI. This is now being investigated with flow cytometry, RNAseq, CRISPR and other technical approaches. We also use cultured bladder epithelial cell models and murine models of cystitis to investigate the ability of UPEC to modulate host innate and adaptive immune responses. Our primary goal is to discover novel targets for interventions that will prevent and treat bacterial infections of the urinary tract. Along these lines, we are leveraging recent discoveries in UTI pathogenesis to design novel therapies for prevention of recurrent UTI. 

    Clinical interests

    Pediatric infectious diseases, urinary tract infections

    Mentoring

    I am committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in my clinical work, research laboratory, and training programs. Within the laboratory, I support diversity in providing research experiences to both graduate and undergraduate students. Of 7 graduate students who have completed their degrees in my lab, 6 are women and 1 is an underrepresented minority. The lab has also hosted a number of URM female undergraduate students for summer research or honors credit. I actively recruit URM students to our graduate programs and for research rotations.  

    I serve as Training Director for the Department of Pediatrics' Child Health Research Center (NICHD K12), which has an excellent record of supporting URM trainees. In addition, I co-direct the Physician-Scientist Training Program at WUSM, which has launched a new minority post-bac program to recruit promising undergraduate seniors from across the country (including HBCUs) to spend two years in the laboratories of our funded physician-scientists.

    Nationally, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS), I chaired the newly created DEI Task Force. This workgroup was initially tasked with developing data collection tools so that PAS could, for the first time, assess the diversity (sex, gender, race, ethnicity and other measures) of its meeting attendees, abstract and session submitters, platform presenters, and program committee.  We achieved this and ensured that the diversity of the selected science (posters and platforms) exceeded that of the submitted abstracts. We also identified pathways to increase diversity among our Program Committee members. This Task Force was converted to a standing Committee of the PAS Board upon the completion of my term as DEI chair. In addition, as Strategy and Operations Officer for the Society for Pediatric Research, I shepherded the initiation of a new fellowship grant program, called the PROSPER Diversity Award, which provides financial support for research led by pediatric subspecialty fellows who are members of URM communities.  

    Available to Mentor:

    • PhD/MSTP Students

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