Speakers: Elebeoba May, PhD

Elebeoba May, PhD

Associate Professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology
University of Wisconsin-Madison


Elebeoba E. May, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health and faculty member of the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery. She earned her Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University and prior to joining the UW-Madison served as a Program Director for the National Science Foundation’s Biological Sciences Directorate and held appointments at the University of Houston and Sandia National Laboratories. As director of the Multiscale Immunobiology Design, Algorithms, and Simulation (MIDAS) Lab, her research focuses on the design of integrated quantitative and empirical platforms for the development of multi-scale, predictive models of biological and biomolecular systems, with an emphasis on host-pathogen interactions, microbial communities, and biological information processing. Multiscale agent-based models developed by the May lab are being used to model: pathogen adaptation to microenvironment induced stress; microbial cooperativity and quorum sensing in biofilm formation; and the dysregulating effect of comorbidities such as micronutrient deficiency and COPD on immune response to respiratory infections in diseases like tuberculosis and tularemia.

System Models of Infection Response in Individuals with Comorbidities

Infection, host response and the occurrence of disease can be modeled as an emergent process resulting from the interaction of multiple cellular systems.  Computational and experimental platforms that enable concurrent spatiotemporal and biochemical monitoring provide multi-omic data sets useful for quantifying infection dynamics and characterizing outcome.  Using these data sets, we are developing in silico multicellular models to probe the contribution of physiological, structural and biochemical immune response to control, resolve or disseminate bacteria during infection with pathogens such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb).  Systems models can be used to investigate various cellular responses, such as the initial recruitment of macrophages and their spatio‑chemical reaction to pathogens, a critical factor in host immunity.  Multiscale models are being used to capture host-pathogen-environment interactions via agent-based models (ABM), and are valuable tools for predicting effects of comorbidities on host response to infection.  We discuss the generation of data for multiscale systems models and our use of these models to investigate key physiological and immunological drivers of tuberculosis outcomes in individuals with and without comorbidities, with a focus on micronutrient deficiency and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).