Skip to main content
Explore URMC

Steven R. Gill, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Office: (585) 275-1003

Fax: (585) 473-9573

Research Labs

Our research interests are centered around microbial pathogens and the impact of human microbial flora on human health and disease.

Visit Lab Website

Faculty Appointments



Our research interests are centered around microbial pathogens and the impact of human microbial flora on human health and disease. The current focus is on 1) virulence determinants of Staphylococcus aureus and 2) relationship of the oral microbial community and oral cancer.

Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most successful human pathogens, asymptomatically colonizing over 2 billion individuals worldwide and capable of causing invasive and deadly opportunistic infections. We are using genomic approaches to identify virulence determinants associated with S. aureus infections and determine their roles in pathogenicity. The numerous putative virulence factors we have identified include toxins, bacterial surface proteins that mediate adhesion to host tissue as well as putative regulatory elements and genes with possible roles in evasion of innate immunity. We are currently using in vivo and in vitro experimental approaches to verify the functions of these genes. In addition, we have recently initiated a systems biology approach employing animal infection models, deep genome sequencing and RNAseq transcriptome analysis to identify the genomic and transcriptional basis of chronic and complicated S. aureus infections.
In addition to Staphylococcus aureus, the Staphylococcal family includes several species which are emerging as pathogens of clinical relevance. We are currently working on Staphylococcus epidermidis and the contribution of vertical and horizontal genome evolution to their increased virulence. In S. epidermidis, we have identified a putative pathogenicity island (SePI), which appears to have been acquired by cross-species mobilization from S. aureus. We are attempting to determine the mobilization mechanism of the SePI and its role in virulence.

Association of the oral microbial community with oral cancer

Oral cancer is one of the top ten most common cancers, with the incidence increasing in the United States and many other parts of the world. The prognosis for oral cancer is markedly poor, with the average all-stage, 5-year survival rate under 50%. Worldwide, oral cancer is the sixth most prevalent cancer with over 300,000 new cases diagnosed each year. In the United States alone, 30,000 new cases are diagnosed each year with an anticipated 8,000 deaths attributed to the disease.
A major component of the human oral cavity with a direct role in oral health and disease is the oral microbiota or oral microbiome, a complex community of over 800 bacterial species that exist in a dynamic and intimate relationship with the oral surfaces of the human host. Progression from oral health to disease is associated with a shift in oral microbiome community structure and the emergence of potential oral pathogens. Our overall hypothesis is that there is an oral cancer microbiome with a distinct community structure and functional features that can initiate tumorigenesis through interaction with the oral tumor microenvironment.
Using 454-pyrosequencing phylogenetic analyses to identify microbial community structure, we have demonstrated that the oral tumor microenvironment harbors a distinct population of phyla, genera and species not found in healthy oral tissue. We are currently using 454 metagenomic analyses to identify the functional capacity of these same microbial communities as well as identify other members of the tumor microbial community, including viruses, fungi and Achaea. Finally, we have demonstrated that bacterial species cultivated from the oral tumor microenvironment impact cell signaling pathways responsible for initiation and progression of oral cancer.



B.S. | South Dakota State University
Microbiology Minor: Chemistry

M.S. | North Dakota State University

Ph.D. | Kansas State University

Post-doctoral Training & Residency

2005 - 2007
Adjunct Investigator-The Institute for Genomic Research

2005 - 2010
Joint appointment at the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences

1999 - 2005
Associate Investigator - The Institute for Genomic Research Research Areas: community metagenomics, oral bacterial genomics, Staphylococcal genomics, functional genomics, microarrays

1997 - 1999
Assistant Investigator - The Institute for Genomic Research Research Areas: minimal bacterial genome, Staphylococcal genomics

1996 - 0
Research Associate - The Johns Hopkins University, Department of Biology Research Areas: microtubule-based motility

1992 - 1995
Postdoctoral Fellow - The Johns Hopkins University, Department of Biology. Advisor: Trina A. Schroer, Ph.D. Research Areas: microtubule-based motility

01/1989 - 1992
Postdoctoral Fellow - The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Advisor: Don W. Cleveland, Ph.D. Research Areas: expression and assembly of mouse neurofilament proteins, microtubule-based motility

VIEW ALL expand_more


University at Buffalo Visionary Inventor

1989 - 1992
NIH Neuroscience Postdoctoral Fellowship

1988 - 1989
Wesley Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship

VIEW ALL expand_more


Journal Articles

Favazzo LJ, Gill AL, Farnsworth CW, Mooney RA, Gill SR. "Response of and contributes to virulence and metabolism." Journal of bacteriology.. 2019 Feb 19; Epub 2019 Feb 19.

Xiao J, Grier A, Faustoferri RC, Alzoubi S, Gill AL, Feng C, Liu Y, Quivey RG, Kopycka-Kedzierawski DT, Koo H, Gill SR. "Association between Oral Candida and Bacteriome in Children with Severe ECC." Journal of dental research.. 2018 Dec 0; 97(13):1468-1476. Epub 2018 Jul 26.

Oh I, Muthukrishnan G, Ninomiya MJ, Brodell JD, Smith BL, Lee CC, Gill SR, Beck CA, Schwarz EM, Daiss JL. "Tracking Anti- Antibodies Produced and during Foot Salvage Therapy for Diabetic Foot Infections Reveals Prognostic Insights and Evidence of Diversified Humoral Immunity." Infection and immunity.. 2018 Dec 0; 86(12)Epub 2018 Nov 20.