Kerry Hamilton's research interests are in the areas of environmental microbiology, water quality, risk assessment and decision analysis.
Antibiotic resistance in the environment
Antibiotic resistant bacteria and genes occur widely in water and wastewater environments and are though to contribute to the existence of hot spots for horizontal gene transfer. However, a consensus regarding how to assess and manage potential human health risks in waterborne environments has not been reached. The Hamilton Lab is developing computational approaches to address these gaps.
In addition, they are developing an open-access data base for this project. Access in-progress files from this project on our Open Science Framework site.
Risk assessment for opportunistic pathogens
Opportunistic pathogens cause disease in vulnerable people such as the young, elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Opportunistic pathogens are an increasingly important portion of the waterborne disease burden globally and include pathogens such as Legionella pneumophila, non-tuberculous mycobacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and a long list of others. These pathogens are of particular concern in engineered water systems.
The bacteria Legionella pneumphila causes a severe respiratory illness known as Legionnaires' disease as well as a less severe form of illness, Pontiac Fever. It is the most frequently identified cause of drinking water-associated waterborne disease outbreaks in the United States. We are using various modeling approaches including quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) to inform prevention strategies for Legionnaire's disease.
Non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are a group of mycobacteria apart from those that cause tuberculosis. They can cause infections that vary depending on the exposure route, exposed population and species of NTM considered. The Hamilton Lab is expanding our approaches for Legionnaires' disease to predict and prevent NTM risks.
Kerry's research website: https://hamiltonlab.engineering.asu.edu/