Molly A. Hughes


  • BS, Bucknell University
  • MD/PhD, Vanderbilt University

Primary Appointment

  • Associate Professor, Medicine- Infectious Diseases and International Health


Research Interest(s)

Biodefense and emerging pathogens

Research Description

The goal of the primary research project in the Hughes laboratory is to investigate a select family of host interferon-inducible CXC chemokines known as CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11 as novel antimicrobial agents to combat bacterial pathogens that cause infections. For our ongoing project, we study the lung pathogen, Bacillus anthracis, based on our work demonstrating that CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11 exhibit antimicrobial effects against both the spore and vegetative bacillus form of B. anthracis. This work has led to exciting new findings of putative bacterial targets applicable to the development of potential new therapeutic strategies against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens, including multi-drug resistant bacterial strains.

Another area of research of the Hughes laboratory has resulted from an ongoing, international collaboration with Infectious Diseases colleagues at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan. Studies include a focus on 1) etiologies of respiratory infections in adults and children, 2) identification of biomarkers of gut health, and 3) mechanisms of multi-drug antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens.

Selected Publications

  • Cincotta M, Coffey K, Moonah S, Uppal D, Hughes M. Case Report of Granulicatella adiacens as a Cause of Bacterascites. Case reports in infectious diseases. 2015;2015 132317. PMID: 26618012 | PMCID: PMC4649103
  • Schutte K, Fisher D, Burdick M, Mehrad B, Mathers A, Mann B, Nakamoto R, Hughes M. Escherichia coli Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex Is an Important Component of CXCL10-Mediated Antimicrobial Activity. Infection and immunity. 2015;84(1): 320-8. PMID: 26553462 | PMCID: PMC4694015
  • Wang J, Bartelt L, Yu D, Joshi A, Weinbaum B, Pierson T, Patrizio M, Warren C, Hughes M, Donowitz G. Primary cutaneous cryptococcosis treated with debridement and fluconazole monotherapy in an immunosuppressed patient: a case report and review of the literature. Case reports in infectious diseases. 2015;2015 131356. PMID: 25722900 | PMCID: PMC4332984
  • Ghanchi N, Khan E, Farooqi J, Fasih N, Dojki M, Hughes M. Knowledge and practices of laboratory workers on standardized antimicrobial susceptibility testing and biosafety practices to prevent the spread of superbugs in Pakistan. American journal of infection control. 2014;42(9): 1022-4. PMID: 25179341
  • Barua S, Iyer J, Larabee J, Raisley B, Hughes M, Coggeshall K, Ballard J. Toxin inhibition of antimicrobial factors induced by Bacillus anthracis peptidoglycan in human blood. Infection and immunity. 2013;81(10): 3693-702. PMID: 23876807
  • Crawford M, Lowe D, Fisher D, Stibitz S, Plaut R, Beaber J, Zemansky J, Mehrad B, Glomski I, Strieter R, Hughes M. Identification of the bacterial protein FtsX as a unique target of chemokine-mediated antimicrobial activity against Bacillus anthracis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2011;108(41): 17159-64. PMID: 21949405 | PMCID: PMC3193227
  • Crawford M, Burdick M, Glomski I, Boyer A, Barr J, Mehrad B, Strieter R, Hughes M. Interferon-inducible CXC chemokines directly contribute to host defense against inhalational anthrax in a murine model of infection. PLoS pathogens. 2010;6(11): e1001199. PMID: 21124994 | PMCID: PMC2987825
  • Crawford M, Zhu Y, Green C, Burdick M, Sanz P, Alem F, O'Brien A, Mehrad B, Strieter R, Hughes M. Antimicrobial effects of interferon-inducible CXC chemokines against Bacillus anthracis spores and bacilli. Infection and immunity. 2009;77(4): 1664-78. PMID: 19179419 | PMCID: PMC2663164
  • Hughes M, Burns D, Juris S, Tang W, Clement K, Eaton L, Kelly-Cirino C, McKee M, Powell B, Bishop B, Rudge T, Shine N, Verma A, Willis M, Morse S. The case for developing consensus standards for research in microbial pathogenesis: Bacillus anthracis toxins as an example. Infection and immunity. 2009;77(10): 4182-6. PMID: 19651858 | PMCID: PMC2747970
  • Loving C, Osorio M, Kim Y, Nuñez G, Hughes M, Merkel T. Nod1/Nod2-mediated recognition plays a critical role in induction of adaptive immunity to anthrax after aerosol exposure. Infection and immunity. 2009;77(10): 4529-37. PMID: 19620350 | PMCID: PMC2747953
  • Park S, Hughes M, Burdick M, Strieter R, Mehrad B. Early NK cell-derived IFN-{gamma} is essential to host defense in neutropenic invasive aspergillosis. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 2009;182(7): 4306-12. PMID: 19299730 | PMCID: PMC3030967
  • Strieter R, Keeley E, Hughes M, Burdick M, Mehrad B. The role of circulating mesenchymal progenitor cells (fibrocytes) in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. Journal of leukocyte biology. 2009;86(5): 1111-8. PMID: 19581373 | PMCID: PMC2774878
  • Tessier J, Green C, Padgett D, Zhao W, Schwartz L, Hughes M, Hewlett E. Contributions of histamine, prostanoids, and neurokinins to edema elicited by edema toxin from Bacillus anthracis. Infection and immunity. 2007;75(4): 1895-903. PMID: 17261611 | PMCID: PMC1865696
  • Easley C, Karlinsey J, Bienvenue J, Legendre L, Roper M, Feldman S, Hughes M, Hewlett E, Merkel T, Ferrance J, Landers J. A fully integrated microfluidic genetic analysis system with sample-in-answer-out capability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2006;103(51): 19272-7. PMID: 17159153 | PMCID: PMC1748216
  • Hughes M, Green C, Lowchyj L, Lee G, Grippe V, Smith M, Huang L, Harvill E, Merkel T. MyD88-dependent signaling contributes to protection following Bacillus anthracis spore challenge of mice: implications for Toll-like receptor signaling. Infection and immunity. 2005;73(11): 7535-40. PMID: 16239556 | PMCID: PMC1273865
  • Hughes M, Lee C, Holm C, Ghosh S, Mills A, Lockhart L, Reed S, Mann B. Identification of Entamoeba histolytica thiol-specific antioxidant as a GalNAc lectin-associated protein. Molecular and biochemical parasitology. 2003;127(2): 113-20. PMID: 12672520