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Manolito Torralba studied biology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences. He started his scientific career in clinical microbiology and expanded his research interests working as a Research Associate II (RAII) at the J. Craig Venter Institute. His contributions to JCVI include optimizing various approaches in extracting nucleic acids from unique environmental and clinical sample types. Several standardized protocols have resulted from this work and are used in various laboratories worldwide.

With encouragement from his mentor, Dr. Karen Nelson, along with his own interests in genomics research, he decided to pursue a doctoral degree at Catholic University while continuing to work as an RAII. Through the years of his doctoral program, he moved into a leadership role at JCVI and is currently the Laboratory Research and Development Manager for the Department of Genomic Medicine. Currently, Mr. Manolito is on track to successfully defend his research on identifying novel virulence factors of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). In addition to his work on MRSA, his broad range of research interests include genomics approaches to studying microbial ecology in unique and previously unexplored environments as well as in host-pathogen interactions as associated with autoimmune diseases.

Research Priorities

Antibiotic Resistant Pathogens

  • Identifying novel virulence factors in antibiotic resistant pathogens using genomics approaches
  • Long term goals include predicting mobility of gene elements that can spread resistance

Host Pathogen Interactions

  • Characterizing microbial shifts in the human microbiome as it is associated with health and disease
  • Using genomics approaches to identify variations in gene expression as associated with health or disease 

Microbial Ecology in Unique Environments

  • Characterizing the microbial populations in unique and previously unexplored environments
  • Identifying metabolic processes that allow microbial communities to survive in poor conditions


Select Publications

Host Genetic Control of the Oral Microbiome in Health and Disease.
Cell host & microbe. 2017-09-13; 22.3: 269-278.e3.
PMID: 28910633
Effect of Macondo Prospect 252 Oil on Microbiota Associated with Pelagic Sargassum in the Northern Gulf of Mexico.
Microbial ecology. 2017-01-01; 73.1: 91-100.
PMID: 27815589
Minimally Invasive Sampling Method Identifies Differences in Taxonomic Richness of Nasal Microbiomes in Young Infants Associated with Mode of Delivery.
Microbial ecology. 2016-01-01; 71.1: 233-42.
PMID: 26370110
Bacterial translocation and changes in the intestinal microbiome in mouse models of liver disease.
Journal of hepatology. 2012-06-01; 56.6: 1283-92.
PMID: 22326468
Enteric dysbiosis associated with a mouse model of alcoholic liver disease.
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.). 2011-01-01; 53.1: 96-105.
PMID: 21254165
Using DGGE profiling to develop a novel culture medium suitable for oral microbial communities.
Molecular oral microbiology. 2010-10-01; 25.5: 357-67.
PMID: 20883224
Antimicrobial resistance of the coral pathogen Vibrio coralliilyticus and Caribbean sister phylotypes isolated from a diseased octocoral.
Microbial ecology. 2010-05-01; 59.4: 646-57.
PMID: 20309538