Virginia Commonwealth University

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Featured Researcher

Research Expertise and Focus

  • Molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis in Neisseria gonorrhoeae, specifically related to iron acquisition strategies
  • R01 AI47141 Funding period: 1/2001 – 2/2013 NIH – NIAID
    Title: “A molecular study of the gonococcal transferrin receptor”
  • U19 AI31496 SE STI CRC  (P.I. of project #2) Funding period: 09/2009 – 08/2015 NIH – NIAID
    Title:  “The influence of iron on gonococcal invasion”

Professional Highlights

Membership and Leadership

  • American Society for Microbiology, Graduate and Postdoctoral Education Committee, 2004-present
  • Chair. American Society of Microbiology, Graduate and Postdoctoral Education Committee, 2012-present
  • Chartered member, NIH study section in bacterial pathogenesis, 2006-2010


  • Best teacher in M2 Microbiology course, 2010, 2013
  • Best teacher in Infection and Immunity course, 2013
  • Outstanding Teacher Award, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, 2010


  • Infection and Immunity Editorial Board, 1998-present

Education and Training

  • Ph.D., microbiology, M.S., B.S., University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
  • Research fellowship in bacterial pathogenesis-medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • Research assistant professor, Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Selected Publications

Cash DR, Noinaj N, Buchanan SK, Cornelissen CN. Beyond the Crystal Structure:  Insight into the Function and Vaccine Potential of TbpA Expressed by Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Infect Immun. 2015 Nov;83(11):4438-49. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00762-15. Epub 2015 Sep 8. PubMed PMID: 26351283; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4598392.

Booth L, Roberts JL, Cash DR, Tavallai S, Jean S, Fidanza A, Cruz-Luna T, Siembiba P, Cycon KA, Cornelissen CN, Dent P. GRP78/BiP/HSPA5/Dna K is a universal therapeutic target for human disease. J Cell Physiol. 2015 Jul;230(7):1661-1676. PMCID: PMC4402027

Velez Acevedo RN, Ronpirin C, Kandler JL, Shafer WM, Cornelissen CN. Identification of regulatory elements that control expression of the tbpBA operon in neisseria gonorrhoeae. J Bacteriol. 2014 Aug;196(15):2762-2774. PMCID: PMC4135677

Noinaj N, Cornelissen CN, Buchanan SK. Structural insight into the lactoferrin receptors from pathogenic neisseria. J Struct Biol. 2013 Oct;184(1):83-92. PMCID: PMC3716850

Ostberg KL, DeRocco AJ, Mistry SD, Dickinson MK, Cornelissen CN. Conserved regions of gonococcal TbpB are critical for surface exposure and transferrin iron utilization. Infect Immun. 2013 Sep;81(9):3442-50. PMCID: PMC3754215

Noinaj N, Buchanan SK, Cornelissen CN. The transferrin-iron import system from pathogenic Neisseria species. Mol Microbiol. 2012 Oct;86(2):246-57. PMCID: PMC3468669

Banerjee S,Siburt CJ, Mistry S, Noto JL, DeArmond P, Fitzgerald MC, Cornelissen CN, Crumbliss AL. Evidence of Fe3+ interaction with the plug domain of the outer membrane transferrin receptor protein of Neisseria gonorrhoeae:  Implications for Fe transport. Metallomics. 2012 Apr;4(4):361-72. PMID: 22399131

Hollander A, Mercante AD, Shafer WM, Cornelissen CN. The iron-repressed, AraC-like regulator MpeR activates expression of fetA in neisseria gonorrhoeae. Infect Immun. 2011 Dec;79(12):4764-76. PMCID: PMC3232672

Strange HR, Zola TA, Cornelissen CN. The fbpABC operon is required for ton-independent utilization of xenosiderophores by neisseria gonorrhoeae strain FA19. Infect Immun. 2011 Jan;79(1):267-78. PMCID: PMC3019921

Cornelissen CN. Molecular pathogenesis of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Front Microbiol. 2011; 2: 224.  PMCID: PMC3215996

Cornelissen CN, Hollander A. TonB-dependent transporters expressed by neisseria gonorrhoeae. Front Microbiol. 2011;2: 117. PMCID: PMC3128382

Zola TA, Strange HR, Dominguez NM, Dillard JP, Cornelissen CN. Type IV secretion machinery promotes ton-independent intracellular survival of neisseria gonorrhoeae within cervical epithelial cells. Infect Immun. 2010 Jun;78(6):2429-2437. PMCID: PMC2876539

DeRocco AJ, Yost-Daljev MK, Kenney CD, Cornelissen CN. Kinetic analysis of ligand interaction with the gonococcal transferrin-iron acquisition system. Biometals. 2009 Jun;22(3):439-51. PMCID: PMC2682638

Siburt CJ, Roulhac PL, Weaver KD, Noto JM, Mietzner TA, Cornelissen CN, Fitzgerald MC, Crumbliss AL. Hijacking transferrin bound iron: Protein-receptor interactions involved in iron transport in N. gonorrhoeae. Metallomics. 2009;1(3):249-255. PMCID: PMC2749328

Cornelissen CN. Identification and characterization of gonococcal iron transport systems as potential vaccine antigens. Future Microbiol. 2008 Jun;3(3):287-298. PMCID: PMC2657661

Noto JM, Cornelissen CN. Identification of TbpA residues required for transferrin-iron utilization by neisseria gonorrhoeae. Infect Immun. 2008 May;76(5):1960-1969. PMCID: PMC2346694

Price GA, Masri HP, Hollander AM, Russell MW, Cornelissen CN. Gonococcal transferrin binding protein chimeras induce bactericidal and growth inhibitory antibodies in mice. Vaccine. 2007 Oct 10;25(41):7247-7260. PMCID: PMC2225598

DeRocco AJ, Cornelissen CN. Identification of transferrin-binding domains in TbpB expressed by neisseria gonorrhoeae. Infect Immun. 2007 Jul;75(7):3220-3232. PMCID: PMC1932913

Price GA, Russell MW, Cornelissen CN. Intranasal administration of recombinant neisseria gonorrhoeae transferrin binding proteins A and B conjugated to the cholera toxin B subunit induces systemic and vaginal antibodies in mice. Infect Immun. 2005 Jul;73(7):3945-3953. PMCID: PMC1168620

Yost-Daljev MK, Cornelissen CN. Determination of surface-exposed, functional domains of gonococcal transferrin-binding protein A. Infect Immun. 2004 Mar;72(3):1775-1785. PMCID: PMC356054

Price GA, Hobbs MM, Cornelissen CN. Immunogenicity of gonococcal transferrin binding proteins during natural infections. Infect Immun. 2004 Jan;72(1):277-283. PMCID: PMC343986

Paik S, Brown A, Munro CL, Cornelissen CN, Kitten T. The sloABCR operon of streptococcus mutans encodes an mn and fe transport system required for endocarditis virulence and its mn-dependent repressor. J Bacteriol. 2003 Oct;185(20):5967-5975. PMCID: PMC225050

Kenney CD, Cornelissen CN. Demonstration and characterization of a specific interaction between gonococcal transferrin binding protein A and TonB. J Bacteriol. 2002 Nov;184(22):6138-6145. PMCID: PMC151950

Jerse AE, Crow ET, Bordner AN, Rahman I, Cornelissen CN, Moench TR, Mehrazar K. Growth of neisseria gonorrhoeae in the female mouse genital tract does not require the gonococcal transferrin or hemoglobin receptors and may be enhanced by commensal lactobacilli. Infect Immun. 2002 May;70(5):2549-2558. PMCID: PMC127891

Masri HP, Cornelissen CN. Specific ligand binding attributable to individual epitopes of gonococcal transferrin binding protein A. Infect Immun. 2002 Feb;70(2):732-740. PMCID: PMC127705

Ronpirin C, Jerse AE, Cornelissen CN. Gonococcal genes encoding transferrin-binding proteins A and B are arranged in a bicistronic operon but are subject to differential expression. Infect Immun. 2001 Oct;69(10):6336-6347. PMCID: PMC98769

Boulton IC, Yost MK, Anderson JE, Cornelissen CN. Identification of discrete domains within gonococcal transferrin-binding protein A that are necessary for ligand binding and iron uptake functions. Infect Immun. 2000 Dec;68(12):6988-6996. PMCID: PMC97808

Cornelissen CN, Anderson JE, Boulton IC, Sparling PF. Antigenic and sequence diversity in gonococcal transferrin-binding protein A. Infect Immun. 2000 Aug;68(8):4725-4735. PMCID: PMC98422

Biswas GD, Anderson JE, Chen CJ, Cornelissen CN, Sparling PF. Identification and functional characterization of the neisseria gonorrhoeae lbpB gene product. Infect Immun. 1999 Jan;67(1):455-459. PMCID: PMC96337

Cornelissen CN, Anderson JE, Sparling PF. Characterization of the diversity and the transferrin-binding domain of gonococcal transferrin-binding protein 2. Infect.Immun. 1997 Feb;65(2):822-828. PMCID: PMC176134

Cornelissen CN, Sparling PF. Binding and surface exposure characteristics of the gonococcal transferrin receptor are dependent on both transferrin-binding proteins. J Bacteriol. 1996 Mar;178(5):1437-1444.PMCID: PMC177819

Anderson JE, Sparling PF, Cornelissen CN. Gonococcal transferrin-binding protein 2 facilitates but is not essential for transferrin utilization. J Bacteriol. 1994 Jun;176(11):3162-3170. PMCID: PMC205484

Cornelissen CN, Biswas GD, Sparling PF. Expression of gonococcal transferrin-binding protein 1 causes escherichia coli to bind human transferrin. J Bacteriol. 1993 Apr;175(8):2448-2450. PMCID: PMC204535

Cornelissen CN, Biswas GD, Tsai J, Paruchuri DK, Thompson SA, Sparling PF. Gonococcal transferrin-binding protein 1 is required for transferrin utilization and is homologous to TonB-dependent outer membrane receptors. J.Bacteriol. 1992 Sep;174(18):5788-5797. PMCID: PMC207106