Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: Physiology and Health
Nicholas Guthrie - Howard University
Understanding the health of our ancestors can give us a viewpoint to understand present-day health conditions. The relationship of African American (AA) ancestry to infectious disease status has not been extensively studied. This study aims to characterize AA health by osteologically investigating the microbial effects of Treponema palladium (TP) bacteria on AAs who died in the greater DC metropolitan area from 1930 to 1969. The gram-negative, spiral shaped bacteria has four pathogenic subspecies; pallidum, pertenue, endemicum, and carateum, causing syphilis, yaws, endemic syphilis, and pinta, respectively. To confirm TP infection, we will use the Cobb Collection autopsy and clinical records in conjunction with scientific methods of microscopic analysis, microbial analysis, and various imaging techniques. DNA extracted from the Cobb Collection individuals will be analyzed for traces of TP genetic material, using PCR, to confirm the diagnosis. Furthermore, the screening process will be expanded to Cobb Collection individuals who show some visual markers of the infection. Our expected results will yield better understanding of the pathology of TP and its contribution to AA morbidity and mortality during the era of overt racial segregation to the present day.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): HU-LSAMP
Faculty Advisor: Fatimah LC Jackson,