Risk Group 3 Pathogen Research

The HTRL is a platform for basic research on the molecular mechanisms of infectious diseases, and translational research applying basic findings to the development of products such as diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

Current research projects involving Risk Group 3 pathogens at the HTRL include:


SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome) is a strain of the coronavirus. The outbreak of this strain sparked the pandemic of 2020 and the creation of the Risk Group 3 core at the HTRL. Our staff conducts cutting-edge COVID-19 research in collaboration with laboratories and companies around the world. We’ve performed observational studies and worked with novel theraputics and vaccines to help combat this virus.

Yersinia pestis

Plague is historically one of the deadliest human infectious diseases. It is endemic in the western US and is a frequent pathogen of prairie dogs. Plague is caused by Yersinia pestis, a gram – negative bacillus. It is transmitted by fleas and can infect humans. Currently there is a need for an effective vaccine. Researchers at the HTRL are developing a novel recombinant plague vaccine based on the LcrV protein, a component of the Y. pestis type III secretion system.

Bacillus anthracis

Anthrax is a deadly bacterial infection caused by Bacillus anthracis, a spore-forming, gram-positive bacillus. Anthrax spores are extremely resistant to heat, desiccation and other forms of disinfection. Spores can also be easily dispersed in the environment. HTRL researchers are taking several approaches to developing therapeutics that target assembly of the B. anthracis capsule and an effective anthrax vaccine based on an engineered form of a secreted anthrax toxin.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) is the small, but mighty, bacillus bacteria that causes Tuberculosis – a chronic infectious disease that can be fatal without treatment. With the increasing number of antibiotic restistance strains, research on Mycobacterium tuberculosis is crucial. Since MTB is transmitted through the respitory tract, we use extra precautions and approach this bacteria with BSL3 biosafety measures.

Contact HTRL with research inquiries. Our researchers are eager to contribute to research on current or new Risk Group 3 pathogens.