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stgemeIIIj [at]
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Room 9NW67

3401 Civic Center Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Research Topics
Joseph W. St. Geme, III, MD
Joseph W. St. Geme
Chair, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. St. Geme's research focuses on bacterial pathogenesis, with an emphasis on defining the molecular and cellular determinants of Haemophilus influenzae and Kingella kingae disease.



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Dr. St. Geme focuses on bacterial pathogenesis, with an emphasis on gram-negative bacteria that transition from a state of commensalism in the upper respiratory tract to either localized or invasive disease.

Dr. St. Geme uses genetic methods, protein chemistry, carbohydrate chemistry, X-ray crystallography, high-resolution microscopy, cell biology approaches, and animal models to study the molecular and cellular determinants of H. influenzae and K. kingae disease.

Dr. St. Geme's long-term goals are to identify candidate vaccine antigens and to elucidate common mechanisms in bacterial pathogenesis that will serve as targets for new antimicrobials with activity against of a wide range of pathogenic gram-negative bacteria.

Dr. St. Geme's notable career achievements include:

  • Discovery of three families of H. influenzae adhesive proteins (HMW1/HMW2, Hia/Hsf, Hap) that have potential as vaccine antigens
  • Discovery of a novel form of regulation of bacterial virulence factors (HMW1 and HMW2 graded phase variation via variation in 7-bp repeats), H. influenzae persistence in the respiratory tract
  • Discovery of a novel paradigm in host-pathogen relations, with a soluble host protein whose primary function is to protect host epithelium potentiating properties that facilitate H. influenzae colonization
  • Discovery of a novel property of human lactoferrin that attenuates the pathogenic potential of H. influenzae, suggesting value as a supplement in infant formulas (lactoferrin has serine protease activity and cleaves H. influenzae Hap and IgA1 protease, two presumed colonization factors)
  • Discovery of a novel subfamily of bacterial autotransporter proteins, referred to as “trimeric autotransporters”
  • Discovery of a novel role for bacterial protein glycosylation, serving to tether the protein to the bacterial surface
  • Characterization of a prototypic gram-negative bacterial two-partner secretion system
  • Discovery of key virulence determinants in H. influenzae and K. kingae

Education and Training

BS, Stanford University (Biology), 1979

MD, Harvard Medical School, 1984

Titles and Academic Titles

Chair, Department of Pediatrics


Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Endowed Chair in Pediatrics

Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology

Professional Awards

Pediatric Scientist Training Program Fellowship Award, Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs, 1988

American Lung Association of California Research Fellowship Award, 1990

Infectious Diseases Society of America, Young Investigator Award, 1994

March of Dimes, Basil O'Connor Award, 1995

Election to the Society for Pediatric Research, 1996

Pediatric Infectious Disease Society, Young Investigator Award, 1996

American Heart Association, Established Investigator Award, 1997

Infectious Diseases Society of America, Squibb Award, 1998

Election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, 1998

Election to the American Pediatric Society, 2003

Outstanding Research Mentor Award, Washington University School of Medicine, 2005

Election to the Association of American Physicians, 2007

Election to the American Academy of Microbiology (Fellow), 2007

Election to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Fellow), 2009

Election to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine), 2010

Distinguished Service Award, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, 2011

Election to the Henry Kunkel Society, 2013

Publication Highlights