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MMI Faculty

Randall Irvin , PhD

Randy Irvin, PhD
Dept. of Medical Microbiology & Immunology
University of Alberta
Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
6-032B Katz Group Centre
T6G 2E1 Edmonton, AB

Ph : (780) 492-5374
Fx : (780) 492-7521




  • Professor, Dept. of Medical Microbiology & Immunology



I am interested in the pathogenic mechanisms employed by opportunistic pathogens. In particular, my research has focused on elucidating the pathogenic mechanism employed by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. My laboratory has been elucidating the mechanisms that P. aeruginosa utilizes to mediate attachment to human respiratory epithelial cells in order to develop an effective vaccine. This vaccine would prevent the initial stage of P. aeruginosa infection by blocking attachment of the pathogen to the mucosal surface. We are about to begin clinical trials of a synthetic peptide anti-pilin adhesin based vaccine.

My laboratory is also interested in the initial stage of infections mediated by Listeria monocytogenes and Candida albicans. In particular we are interested in establishing the molecular basis for attachment of the pathogen to human mucosal epithelial surfaces. Our long range goals are to develop anti-adhesin vaccines for both Candida and Listeria such that colonization would not occur in susceptible patients.

I am also interested in biofilm formation on various solid surfaces as these biofilms present serious problems in both hospitals in and industrial environments. The interaction of the bacterial cell surface with solid surfaces is a complex and poorly understood process that has significant implications for both medicine and industry.



P. aeruginosa biofilm on stainless steel

Bacterial biofilms have a major impact in the world we live in, they form on every exposed surface. The effects of biofilms ranges from biofouling and biocorrosion (which directly causes hundreds of billions of dollars in damage annually ) to causing extremely difficult to treat infections (a particularly challenging issue has been the formation of biofilms on human implants such as artificial joints or other implanted devices such as catheters). Indeed, so called foreign body infections are so resistant to antimicrobial therapy that the current optimal treatment is to remove the infected device or joint from the patient. Bacterial biofilms form by binding to the surface of an implant and investigators have long sought surfaces or methods for the prevention of biofilms. To date approaches such as creating supper hydrophobic surfaces, antibiotic or biocide containing surfaces, or even dissolvable surfaces have not proven effective in limiting biofilm formation. Recently Dr. Irvin’s group began investigating the very early stages of biofilm formation on steel surfaces and initiated a collaboration with a materials engineering group here at the University of Alberta. Drs. Li and Irvin investigated the initial mechanism of biofilm formation and established that high surface electron activity of a metal surface results in particularly strong interactions between the bacteria and the metal—the initial stage of biofilm formation. As Dr. Li’s group had established a method of reducing the surface electron activity of a metal by a nanostructuring method, they investigated whether reducing the surface free energy of a metal by nanostructuring or nanocrystallization could effectively reduce biofilm formation. Our collaborative effort has established that metal surfaces can indeed be engineered to decrease the formation of biofilms.



  • Elisabeth Davis (PDF)



Click here for most recent publications


Selected Publications:

  1. Hazes B, Sastry PA, Hayakawa K, Read RJ, Irvin RT. Crystal structure of pseudomonas aeruginosa PAK pilin suggests a main-chain-dominated mode of receptor binding. J Mol Biol 299:1005-17. 2000
  2. Campbell AP, Wong WY, Irvin RT, Sykes BD. Interaction of a Bacterially Expressed Peptide from the Receptor Binding Domain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Pili Strain PAK with a Cross-Reactive Antibody: Conformation of the Bound Peptide. Biochemistry 39:14847-14864. 2000
  3. Keizer DW, Slupsky CM, Kalisiak M, Campbell P, Crump MP, Sastry PA, Hazes B, Irvin RT, Sykes BD. Structure of a Pilin Monomer from Pseudomonas aeruginosa: Implications for the assembly of pili. J Biol Chem 2001
  4. Suh JY, Spyracopoulos L, Keizer DW, Irvin RT, Sykes BD. Backbone dynamics of receptor binding and antigenic regions of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa pilin monomer. Biochemistry 40:3985-95 2001
  5. Audette GF, Irvin RT, Hazes B. Purification, crystallization and preliminary diffraction studies of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain K122-4 monomeric pilin. Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr. 59:1665-7. 2003

U.S. Patents

1993 - 2002

  1. 5,223,604. Pseudomonas exoenzyme S peptide composition and method.
  2. 5,445,818. Synthetic pseudomonas aeruginosa pilin peptide vaccine and method of use.
  3. 5,468,484. Method of prevention of pseudomonas infection.
  4. 5,494,672. Pseudomonas peptide composition and method.
  5. 5,641,760. Method of treating candida infection.
  6. 5,612,036. Synthetic Pseudomonas aeruginosa pilin peptide vaccine.
  7. 5,738,996. Combinational library composition and method.
  8. 5,955,379 Biosensor device and method.
  9. 6,130,037 Biosensor device and method.
  10. 6,165,335 Biosensor device and method.
  11. 6,342,233 Pseudomonas treatment composition and method.
  12. 6,461,490 Biosensor device and method.
  13. 6,478,939 Biosensor device and methood.

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