Virginia Commonwealth University

Make it real.

Featured Researcher

Research Expertise and Focus

Bacterial vaginosis, a highly prevalent vaginal disorder that significantly increases a woman’s risk of preterm labor and of acquiring HIV

Professional Highlights


  • Fellow, Center for the Study of Biological Complexity

Education and Training

Ph.D., Microbiology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville

Selected Publications

Allen-Daniels MJ, Serrano MG, Pflugner LP, Fettweis JM, Prestosa MA, Koparde VN, Brooks JP, Strauss JF,3rd, Romero R, Chaiworapongsa T, Eschenbach DA, Buck GA, Jefferson KK. Identification of a gene in mycoplasma hominis associated with preterm birth and microbial burden in intraamniotic infection. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Jun; 212(6): 779.e1-779.e13. PMCID: PMC4457590

Castro J, Alves P, Sousa C, Cereija T, Franca A, Jefferson KK, Cerca N. Using an in-vitro biofilm model to assess the virulence potential of bacterial vaginosis or non-bacterial vaginosis gardnerella vaginalis isolates. Sci Rep. 2015 Jun 26 ;511640. PMCID: PMC4481526

Brooks JP, Edwards DJ, Harwich MD,Jr, Rivera MC, Fettweis JM, Serrano MG, Reris RA, Sheth NU, Huang B, Girerd P, Vaginal Microbiome Consortium, Strauss JF,3rd, Jefferson KK, Buck GA. The truth about metagenomics: Quantifying and counteracting bias in 16S rRNA studies. BMC Microbiol. 2015 Mar 21; 1566-015-0351-6. PMCID: PMC4433096

Huang B, Fettweis JM, Brooks JP, Jefferson KK, Buck GA. The changing landscape of the vaginal microbiome. Clin Lab Med. 2014 Dec; 34(4): 747-761. PMCID: PMC4254509

Fettweis JM, Serrano MG, Huang B, Brooks JP, Glascock AL, Sheth NU, Vaginal Microbiome Consortium, Strauss JF,3rd, Jefferson KK, Buck GA. An emerging mycoplasma associated with trichomoniasis, vaginal infection and disease. PLoS One. 2014 Oct 22; 9(10): e110943. PMCID: PMC4206474

Fettweis JM, Brooks JP, Serrano MG, Sheth NU, Girerd PH, Edwards DJ, Strauss JF,3rd, Vaginal Microbiome Consortium, Jefferson KK, Buck GA. Differences in vaginal microbiome in african american women versus women of european ancestry. Microbiology. 2014 Oct; 160(Pt 10): 2272-2282. PMCID: PMC4178329

Brooks JL, Jefferson KK. Phase variation of poly-N-acetylglucosamine expression in staphylococcus aureus. PLoS Pathog. 2014 Jul 31; 10(7): e1004292. PMCID: PMC4117637

Castro J, Henriques A, Machado A, Henriques M, Jefferson KK, Cerca N. Reciprocal interference between lactobacillus spp. and gardnerella vaginalis on initial adherence to epithelial cells. Int J Med Sci. 2013 Jul 20; 10(9): 1193-1198. PMCID: PMC3739018

Fettweis JM, Serrano MG, Sheth NU, Mayer CM, Glascock AL, Brooks JP, Jefferson KK, Vaginal Microbiome Consortium (additional members), Buck GA. Species-level classification of the vaginal microbiome. BMC Genomics. 2012 13 Suppl 8S17-2164-13-S8-S17. Epub 2012 Dec 17. PMCID: PMC3535711

Harwich MD,Jr, Serrano MG, Fettweis JM, Alves JM, Reimers MA, Vaginal Microbiome Consortium (additional members), Buck GA, Jefferson KK. Genomic sequence analysis and characterization of sneathia amnii sp. nov. BMC Genomics. 2012 13 Suppl 8S4-2164-13-S8-S4. Epub 2012 Dec 17. PMCID: PMC3535699

Abraham NM, Lamlertthon S, Fowler VG, Jefferson KK. Chelating agents exert distinct effects on biofilm formation in staphylococcus aureus depending on strain background: Role for clumping factor B. J Med Microbiol. 2012 Aug; 61(Pt 8): 1062-1070. PMCID: PMC3542134

Abraham NM, Jefferson KK. Staphylococcus aureus clumping factor B mediates biofilm formation in the absence of calcium. Microbiology. 2012 Jun; 158(Pt 6): 1504-1512. PMCID: PMC3541775

Fettweis JM, Serrano MG, Girerd PH, Jefferson KK, Buck GA. A new era of the vaginal microbiome: advances using next-generation sequencing. Chem Biodivers. 2012 May;9(5):965-76. PMCID: PMC3517151

Abraham NM, Jefferson KK. A low molecular weight component of serum inhibits biofilm formation in staphylococcus aureus. Microb Pathog. 2010 Dec;49(6):388-91.   PMCID: PMC2956848

Harwich MD,Jr, Alves JM, Buck GA, Strauss JF,3rd, Patterson JL, Oki AT, Girerd PH, Jefferson KK. Drawing the line between commensal and pathogenic gardnerella vaginalis through genome analysis and virulence studies. BMC Genomics. 2010 Jun 11;11:375.  PMCID: PMC2890570

Thompson KM, Abraham N, Jefferson KK. Staphylococcus aureus extracellular adherence protein contributes to biofilm formation in the presence of serum. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2010 Apr;305(2):143-7.  PMCID: PMC2891929

Patterson JL, Stull-Lane A, Girerd PH, Jefferson KK. Analysis of adherence, biofilm formation and cytotoxicity suggests a greater virulence potential of gardnerella vaginalis relative to other bacterial-vaginosis-associated anaerobes. Microbiology. 2010 Feb;156(Pt 2):392-9.  PMCID: PMC2890091

Mackey-Lawrence NM, Potter DE, Cerca N, Jefferson KK. Staphylococcus aureus immunodominant surface antigen B is a cell-surface associated nucleic acid binding protein. BMC Microbiol. 2009 Mar 26;9:61.  PMCID: PMC2670837

Cerca N, Brooks JL, Jefferson KK. Regulation of the intercellular adhesin locus regulator (icaR) by SarA, sigmaB, and IcaR in staphylococcus aureus. J Bacteriol. 2008 Oct; 190(19): 6530-6533. PMCID: PMC2565999

Patterson JL, Girerd PH, Karjane NW, Jefferson KK. Effect of biofilm phenotype on resistance of Gardnerella vaginalis to hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Aug; 197(2): 170.e1-7. PMCID: PMC2020809

Cerca N, Jefferson KK, Maira-Litran T, Pier DB, Kelly-Quintos C, Goldmann DA, Azeredo J, Pier GB. Molecular basis for preferential protective efficacy of antibodies directed to the poorly acetylated form of staphylococcal poly-N-acetyl-beta-(1-6)-glucosamine. Infect Immun. 2007 Jul; 75(7): 3406-3413. PMCID: PMC1932961

Cerca N, Maira-Litran T, Jefferson KK, Grout M, Goldmann DA, Pier GB. Protection against escherichia coli infection by antibody to the staphylococcus aureus poly-N-acetylglucosamine surface polysaccharide. Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A. 2007 May 1; 104(18): 7528-7533. PMCID: PMC1863476

Cerca N, Jefferson KK, Oliveira R, Pier GB, Azeredo J. Comparative antibody-mediated phagocytosis of staphylococcus epidermidis cells grown in a biofilm or in the planktonic state. Infect Immun. 2006 Aug; 74(8): 4849-4855. PMCID: PMC1539625

Cerca N, Martins S, Sillankorva S, Jefferson KK, Pier GB, Oliveira R, Azeredo J. Effects of growth in the presence of subinhibitory concentrations of dicloxacillin on staphylococcus epidermidis and staphylococcus haemolyticus biofilms. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Dec; 71(12): 8677-8682. PMCID: PMC1317332

Kropec A, Maira-Litran T, Jefferson KK, Grout M, Cramton SE, Gotz F, Goldmann DA, Pier GB. Poly-N-acetylglucosamine production in staphylococcus aureus is essential for virulence in murine models of systemic infection. Infect Immun. 2005 Oct; 73(10): 6868-6876. PMCID: PMC1230935

Cerca N, Martins S, Cerca F, Jefferson KK, Pier GB, Oliveira R, Azeredo J. Comparative assessment of antibiotic susceptibility of coagulase-negative staphylococci in biofilm versus planktonic culture as assessed by bacterial enumeration or rapid XTT colorimetry. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2005 Aug; 56(2): 331-336. PMCID: PMC1317301

Jefferson KK, Goldmann DA, Pier GB. Use of confocal microscopy to analyze the rate of vancomycin penetration through staphylococcus aureus biofilms. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2005 Jun; 49(6): 2467-2473. PMCID: PMC1140491

Jefferson KK, Pier DB, Goldmann DA, Pier GB. The teicoplanin-associated locus regulator (TcaR) and the intercellular adhesin locus regulator (IcaR) are transcriptional inhibitors of the ica locus in staphylococcus aureus. J Bacteriol. 2004 Apr; 186(8): 2449-2456. PMCID: PMC412131