Scoffield articleMeet Jessica Scoffield, Ph.D., a microbiologist that studies the role of commensal bacteria in polymicrobial pulmonary and oral infections. Dr. Scoffield's research has led to the discovery of novel mechanisms used by commensal bacteria that interfere with the pathogenesis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a multidrug resistant pathogen that causes deadly lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. 

Scoffield received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology from Tuskegee University and her doctorate in Microbiology from Auburn University in 2012. Dr. Scoffield completed her postdoctoral training in the department of Pediatric Dentistry at UAB.  Scoffield’s research at UAB will focus on how commensal bacteria mediate positive disease outcomes in polymicrobial infections. Commensal and pathogenic bacteria interact in a variety of ways during many infections.  Interestingly, commensal bacteria play a role in maintaining homeostasis in the oral cavity and are associated with improved lung function in patients that have cystic fibrosis.  “Our published studies have demonstrated that oral commensal bacteria can facilitate the generation of reactive nitrogen species that have antimicrobial activity against P. aeruginosa and protect Drosophila melanogaster from being killed by P. aeruginosa in an infection model.”  “We now have evidence that oral commensals display similar behavior in the oral cavity and provide protection against oral infections.”  Her newly funded R00 grant explores nitrosative stress mechanisms used by oral commensals to maintain oral health and inhibit Streptococcus mutans, a major contributor of dental caries.  “Our goal is identify and characterize anti-infective strategies used by commensal bacteria and use this knowledge to develop improved therapeutics that are active against recalcitrant bacterial species.” 

Dr. Scoffield has received several awards and honors, including the NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award. She has served as a peer reviewer for Infection and Immunity and PLOS One. Scoffield is also a member of the American Society for Microbiology and the American Association for Dental Research.