Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle Children’s Hospital
Dr. Rafael Hernandez’s research focuses on understanding the pathogenesis of mycobacteria, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) and related bacteria. In particular, he seeks to understand how mycobacteria interact with cells of the immune system to promote their own survival and in particular how this interaction induces drug tolerance in mycobacteria, making them more resistant to killing by antibiotics. One focus of his research is focused on understanding the role bacterial efflux pumps play in these processes. To conduct this research Dr. Hernandez employs a combination of bacterial genetics with mammalian cell culture and zebrafish animals models. By better understanding these mechanisms we will be able to devise more effective and shorter treatments for tuberculosis. Recent work has also focused on applying new insights from studies on MTB to developing better treatments for nontuberculosis mycobacteria (NTM) which can be especially problematic in patients with cystic fibrosis or other underlying medical conditions. Dr. Hernandez works closely with Dr. Sherman at the Center for Infectious Diseases Research. Dr. Hernandez also serves as the director of the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Isolate Core at Seattle Children’s Hospital, which distributes bacterial isolates from CF patients to researchers nationally and internationally to facilitate CF research.