Ritwij Kulkarni, PhD joined the Department of Biology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette as an assistant professor in August 2016. He received his PhD in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology in 2007 from Stony Brook University (the State University of New York at Stony Brook) under the mentorship of Dr. David Thanassi. The focus of his doctoral dissertation was identification and characterization of novel virulence factors in uropathogenic Escherichia coli, an important pathogen causing urinary tract infections in humans. He received his MS in Microbiology in 1998 and his BS in Microbiology in 1998 from MES Abasaheb Garware College, University of Pune, Pune, India.
After receiving his PhD, Dr. Kulkarni completed post-doctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Adam Ratner at the department of Pediatrics at Columbia University. The focus of his postdoctoral research was to understand the effects of cigarette smoke exposure on the respiratory tract immune defense as well as on the pathogenic bacterial colonizing the airways. From 2013 through 2015, he was research assistant professor in the Vet School at Louisiana State University. While at LSU, his research focused on how secondhand smoke induces emergence of hypervirulent Staphylococcus aureus. Given its importance to public health and relevance to the mission of Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI), Dr. Kulkarni's research was supported by a Young Clinical Scientist Award from FAMRI from 2010 to 2015.
At UL Lafayette, as an Immunologist and Microbiologist Dr. Kulkarni will continue his research to delineate at the molecular level, the interplay between host immune defenses and bacterial virulence factors following exposure to environmental toxicants such as cigarette smoke. The major focus will remain on bacterial pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae, which cause severe respiratory tract infections in humans. In addition he will teach Immunology and Pathogenic Microbiology to undergraduate and graduate students.