Rosemary Redfield

Wall Associate









Dr. Redfield is a Professor in the Department of Zoology. She works on research in genetic exchange and is interested in promoting public education in genetics, delivered through her online course, Useful Genetics.

Natural competence, the ability of many bacteria to take up DNA from their surroundings, raises a number of important questions: How are inflexible and highly charged DNA molecules transported across membranes? What environmental or physiological signals trigger this ability? Is the DNA used primarily as a genetic or a nutritional resource? The broad goal of Dr. Redfield’s research team is to answer these questions for Haemophilus influenzae, an important human pathogen and the model system for studies of DNA uptake in the gamma-proteobacteria. The questions are interrelated – consideration of biological function guides investigation of mechanism and regulation, and understanding the mechanism and regulation helps us understand why cells take up DNA.

Attempts at infection control most often fail because pathogens have acquired new genes and alleles that confer antibiotic resistance or allow escape from immune surveillance and vaccine immunity. This genetic exchange is of particular concern in the respiratory tract since DNA is abundant, bacterial populations are diverse, and many important pathogens are naturally competent for DNA uptake and transformation.