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Allison Carey Research Lab


    In the Carey Lab, we study pathogenic mycobacteria, including the globally significant pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Our scientific goal is to understand how bacterial strain diversity impacts clinically relevant phenotypes, such as antibiotic resistance and vaccine escape.

    Allison Carey, MD, PhD

    Allison is a physician-scientist who received her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale School of Medicine. At Yale, she completed her doctoral training with Dr. John Carlson, gaining critical insights into how the olfactory system of the Anopheles gambiae mosquito detects human blood-meal hosts, a key step in the malaria transmission cycle. After a Roux fellowship at the Pasteur Institute, she completed her residency training in Clinical Pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital. She then joined Dr. Sarah Fortune’s research group at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she developed expertise in another globally significant pathogen, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. She joined the Department of Pathology at the University of Utah in January 2021. Outside the lab, Allison enjoys skiing, swimming, reading, and spending time with her dog.

    Nico Cicchetti, MS

    Nico is a lab specialist who received his B.S. and M.S. from Binghamton University. His research experience began in Dr. Ralph Garruto’s lab, where he assessed Peromyscus leucopusas a primary reservoir for Borrelia burgdorferi, and analyzed genotypes of infectious samples. Throughout his graduate training in Dr. Gretchen Mahler’s lab, he co-cultured cell lines in novelly produced microfluidic environments. After graduating, he joined Dr. Carl Nathan’s research group at Weill Cornell Medicine as a research specialist. There, his sub-group characterized differentially detectable forms of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in both clinical and lab strains. Since then, he has joined Dr. Allison Carey’s mycobacterial genetics research group as a lab specialist at the University of Utah. In his free time, Nico enjoys rock climbing and hiking.

    Kelly Witzl, BS (she/her)

    Kelly is a lab technician who received her B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology from Western Carolina University. Her research experience comes from working in Dr. Gainey’s lab and participating in the LEARN Scholarship Program (Learning Environment and Academic Research Network.). Her work focused on the identification and characterization of prophage mediated defense mechanisms in mycobacterial hosts. She is excited to be continuing research on mycobacterial species in such a beautiful location. In her free time, Kelly enjoys rock climbing, backpacking and skiing.


    We will be recruiting motivated graduate students for the fall of 2023.


    In the Carey Lab, we study pathogenic mycobacteria, including the globally significant pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Our scientific goal is to understand how bacterial strain diversity impacts clinically relevant phenotypes, such as antibiotic resistance and vaccine escape. To do so, we use high-throughput, cutting edge genetic tools and in vitro and in vivo models. We hope that in the long term, the knowledge we gain will help improve diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines for M. tuberculosis and other pathogenic mycobacteria.

    Drug-resistant tuberculosis Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb)

    Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) is the causative agent of tuberculosis, an infectious disease of the lungs that kills over a million individuals a year worldwide and is estimated to latently infect 1/3 of the human population. Antibiotic resistance among Mtb isolates is increasing and the BCG vaccine does not provide complete protection against disease, therefore tuberculosis is likely to remain a global health threat for years to come. We want to understand how genetic diversity in clinical isolates of Mtb impacts the ability of a strain to develop antibiotic resistance or escape the protection conferred by vaccination. To address these questions, we use bacterial functional genomics, whole genome sequencing, and in vitro and mouse models.

    mtb plot

    Non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM)

    Non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are a group of related environmental bacteria that can become opportunist pathogens in individuals with compromised immune systems or underlying lung disease. NTM infections are notoriously difficult treat due to their intrinsic resistance to many antibiotics, and are increasing in prevalence. What makes some strains of these environmental bacteria virulent and able to establish infections in humans remains unclear. The basis of their inherent antibiotic resistance also remains incompletely understood. We aim to investigate these questions with forward genetics, comparative genomics, and cell culture models of infection

    tb strains

    Selected Publications

    • Hicks ND, Carey AF, Yang J, Zhao Y, Fortune SM. Bacterial Genome-Wide Association Identifies Novel Factors That Contribute to Ethionamide and Prothionamide Susceptibility in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. mBio. 2019 Apr 23;10(2):e00616-19. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00616-19. PMID: 31015328; PMCID: PMC6479004.
    • Cadena AM, Hopkins FF, Maiello P, Carey AF, Wong EA, Martin CJ, Gideon HP, DiFazio RM, Andersen P, Lin PL, Fortune SM, Flynn JL. Concurrent infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis confers robust protection against secondary infection in macaques. PLoS Pathog. 2018 Oct 12;14(10):e1007305. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007305. PMID: 30312351; PMCID: PMC6200282.

    Complete list of publications.

    panoramic view of campus in fall
    Campus in Autum
    Campus aerial shot in winter
    Waterfall over Block U
    Campus aerial shot in autum
    Sunset over Red Butte