Robert Glenn Quivey, Ph.D.

Robert Glenn Quivey, Ph.D.

Contact Information

University of Rochester Medical Center
School of Medicine and Dentistry
601 Elmwood Ave, Box 611
Rochester, NY 14642

Office: (585) 275-0382
Fax: (585) 276-0190
Lab: (585) 275-1435

Research Bio

Our research work is focused on a bacterium, Streptococcus mutans, which colonizes the human mouth from the time of tooth eruption until death. The persistence of the organism is remarkable and our efforts are directed to learning the biological means by which it chronically infects virtually every person in the developed nations. The infection requires two relatively simple-minded objectives: bind to tooth surfaces and then survive in the mouth. However, the mouth is a fairly inhospitable environment, containing between 400 and 500 competing bacterial species, volumes of saliva that are swallowed, desquamating soft tissue surfaces, and the swallowing of food (and adsorbed bacteria) as a bolus. Irreversible binding of tooth surfaces occurs by the action of extracellular enzymes produced by S. mutans, the glucosyltransferases (GTFs). These enzymes catalyze the conversion of sucrose, supplied in our diets, to long-chain, insoluble glucans that serve as the molecular scaffold for the formation of dental plaque. If not removed, physically from teeth, the growing mesh of glucan, food particles, bacteria, and salivary constituents continues to accumulate and forms a biofilm referred to as dental plaque. As plaque builds up, S. mutans becomes protected from the flushing effects of saliva and swallowing. In its protected niche, S. mutans metabolism of sugar results in the formation of organic acids and the rapid acidification of the surrounding milieu. As pH values plummet, several orders of magnitude in just seconds, S. mutans begins its adaptation to life at low pH values, where surrounding bacteria can not compete. Our work is in understanding the mechanisms of low pH adaptation and how it relates to bacterial virulence in biofilms.

Results from our efforts have shown that S. mutans utilizes a number of discrete mechanisms to survive acidic environments. Interestingly, we've found that some of the mechanisms are shared with other streptococcal pathogens, and some are shared with streptococcal and staphylococcal pathogens. For example, we've shown that the central acid-protective enzyme, the F-ATPase, is transcriptionally up-regulated ("on") at low pH, which is characteristic shared with S. pneumoniae (Kuhnert et al., 2004). Our data has also shown that S. mutans must make major alterations to its membrane to survive low pH, requiring the action of an enzyme called FabM, a condition that is apparently shared in Staphylococcus aureus (Fozo and Quivey, 2004). Further evidence from our group has shown that resistance to acid-stress overlaps stress from oxidative agents, such as hydrogen peroxide, and that control of oxygen metabolism by an enzyme called NADH oxidase is mediated, in part, by novel mechanisms unique to S. mutans (Karrupaiah et al., 2005). In all of this work, we have focused on identifying those elements that might be useful targets for therapeutic intervention. Our results have shown that identification of unique regulatory schemes or novel enzyme mechanisms involved in stress responses in S. mutans also have a possible usefulness in other human pathogens. We are pursuing or basic science goals, with the inclusion of translational work. For example, we are exploring the use of metal ions, with knowledge gained from DNA repair studies, to develop new therapies for bacterial infection (Faustoferri et al., 2005). We have also begun the use of transgenic mice to study early infection processes (Culp et al., 2005). And, finally, we are developing new technology, in conjunction with the Optics Institute, to rapidly determine the bacterial composition of clinical biofilm samples (Zhu et al., 2004).

Awards & Honors (National)

IADR Councilor for the Microbiology & Immunology Research Group | IADR 2009 - Present
President, Microbiology & Immunology Research Group | IADR 2004 - Present
President Elect, Microbiology and Immunology Research Group | IADR 2002 - 2004
Chairman, Fellowships Committee | IADR/ AADR 1996 - 1999
Member- Pathogen Functional Genomics Research Advisory Committee | J. Craig Venter Institute and NIH Present

Awards & Honors (Local)

Graduate Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Education, University of Rochester Medical Center 2003
Phi Kappa Phi
Sigma Xi


Inhibition of Streptococcus Mutans Growth in Planktonic Cultures and Biofilms, by Simvastatin

United States Serial NO.: 14/110,211
Filed Date: April 5, 2012
Title: Reducing Dental Caries
Invented by: Robert Quivey

Recent Journal Articles

Showing the 5 most recent journal articles. 43 available »

2012 Aug
Macgilvray ME, Lapek JD, Friedman AE, Quivey RG. "Cardiolipin biosynthesis in Streptococcus mutans is regulated in response to external pH." Microbiology. 2012 Aug; 158(Pt 8):2133-43. Epub 2012 May 24.
2012 Jul
Gonzalez K, Faustoferri RC, Quivey RG. "Role of DNA base excision repair in the mutability and virulence of Streptococcus mutans." Molecular microbiology. 2012 Jul; 85(2):361-77. Epub 2012 Jun 15.
2012 Apr
Santiago B, MacGilvray M, Faustoferri RC, Quivey RG. "The branched-chain amino acid aminotransferase encoded by ilvE is involved in acid tolerance in Streptococcus mutans." Journal of bacteriology. 2012 Apr; 194(8):2010-9. Epub 2012 Feb 10.
2012 Feb
Derr AM, Faustoferri RC, Betzenhauser MJ, Gonzalez K, Marquis RE, Quivey RG. "Mutation of the NADH oxidase gene (nox) reveals an overlap of the oxygen- and acid-mediated stress responses in Streptococcus mutans." Applied and environmental microbiology. 2012 Feb; 78(4):1215-27. Epub 2011 Dec 16.
Beier BD, Quivey RG, Berger AJ. "Raman microspectroscopy for species identification and mapping within bacterial biofilms." AMB Express. 2012 2(1):35. Epub 2012 Jul 13.

Current Appointments

Director - Center for Oral Biology - Primary Administrative
Margaret and Cy Welcher Professorship in Dental Research - Center for Oral Biology
Professor - Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Center for Oral Biology (SMD) - Primary


PhD | Microbiology | Univ Texas-Austin1984
MS | Genetics | Penn State University1979
BS | Biology | Penn State University1977
BS | Biochemistry | Penn State University1977

Post-Doctoral Training & Residency

NIH/NIDR Postdoctoral Cariology Trainee, Department of Dental Research, University of Rochester 1988
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Microbiology, University of Rochester 1985