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Martin Pavelka, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Office: (585) 275-4670

Fax: (585) 473-9573

Research Labs

Faculty Appointments



1. Research Projects in Progress

My research expertise is in the genetics, physiology, and biochemistry of the cell envelopes of bacterial respiratory pathogens, with a special focus on the cell wall peptidoglycan.

Tuberculosis Research
1. Biosynthesis of the mycobacterial cell wall. Our current research activities focus on understanding the genetics and biochemistry of cell envelope biosynthesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and related mycobacteria with the goal of identifying new targets that can be translated into the development of novel anti-tuberculosis drugs. Our studies focus on four aspects of the peptidoglycan of mycobacteria: 1) identifying the enzymes responsible for DAP-DAP cross links in the cell wall and their importance for cell survival under non-replicating conditions, 2) understanding the role of carbohydrate hydroxylation and amino acid amidation on peptidoglycan physiology, 3) understanding the function of unusual L,D-transpeptidase enzymes that may modify the cell wall, and 4) understanding the factors that contribute to antibiotic resistance in M. tuberculosis. These research activities include collaborations with Dr. Dean Crick and Dr. Sebabrata Mahapatra (Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO).

2. We are also collaborating with Dr. Scott Butler in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology here at the UR to investigate the function of toxin-antitoxin genes in M. tuberculosis and their potential role in latency in tuberculosis.

Tularemia and Biodefense Research
1. Development of genetic tools for Francisella tularensis and investigations into tularemia pathogenesis. Our early work on Francisella was to develop genetic methods to manipulate Francisella tularensis, the causative agent of tularemia and a Category A Select Agent. This work focused on developing new plasmid vectors, selectable markers, a method of allelic exchange and transposon mutagenesis, single-copy chromosomal integration systems, and protein secretion reporter systems. Future plans include the development of projects to investigate Francisella cell wall physiology and the roles that cell envelope components have in the innate immune response and tularemia pathogenesis.



BS | Cleveland St University

MS | Univ Rochester Sch Med/Dent

PhD | Univ Rochester Sch Med/Dent

Post-doctoral Training & Residency

1994 - 1999
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Bronx, NY).


2006 - 2006
Awardee, URMC Excellence in Research

Recipient of a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences

1990 - 1993
Public Heath Service NIH Predoctoral Trainee

Graduated magna cum laude - Cleveland State University

Doretta C. Thelker Award, Cleveland State University

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Journal Articles

Francis ZK, Sanders AN, Crick DC, Mahapatra S, Islam MN, Pavelka MS. "LdtC Is a Key l,d-Transpeptidase for Peptidoglycan Assembly in Mycobacterium smegmatis." Journal of bacteriology.. 2022 Dec 21; :e0042422. Epub 2022 Dec 21.

Paiola M, Dimitrakopoulou D, Pavelka MS, Robert J. "Amphibians as a model to study the role of immune cell heterogeneity in host and mycobacterial interactions." Developmental and comparative immunology.. 2022 Nov 17; :104594. Epub 2022 Nov 17.

Lopez A, Shoen C, Cynamon M, Dimitrakopoulou D, Paiola M, Pavelka MS, Robert J. "Developing Tadpole as a Comparative Animal Model to Study Pathogenicity." International journal of molecular sciences.. 2021 Jan 15; 22(2)Epub 2021 Jan 15.

Books & Chapters

Chapter Title: Genetics of Peptidoglycan synthesis
Book Title: Molecular Genetics of Mycobacteria
Author List: M. S. Pavelka, Jr. S. Mahapatra D. C. Crick
Published By: ASM Press 2014

Chapter Title: Allelic exchange of unmarked mutations in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Book Title: Chromosomal Mutagenesis. Humana Press.
Author List: Pavelka, M. S., Jr.
Published By: In G. Davis and K. Kayser (ed.), 2008

Chapter Title: Genetics of mycobacterial metabolism.
Book Title: Molecular Genetics of the mycobacteria.
Author List: Pavelka, M. S., Jr.
Edited By: In G. Hatfull and W. R. Jacobs (ed.),
Published By: ASM Press. 2000