Dr. Hazlett's research is focused on the host immune response to the gram negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa). The ubiquitous bacterium is an opportunistic pathogen noted both for its ability to cause disease in particularly susceptible or compromised individuals and its ever increasing resistance to antibiotics. Extremely common in soil and water, it is also responsible for many serious, often fatal, human infections, including upper respiratory tract colonization in cystic fibrosis patients, and in ocular infections, particularly due to injury in battle and in contact lens usage, where blindness can be the outcome. With contact lens use at an all time high, such sight-threatening infections are becoming increasingly widespread and range from purulent conjunctivitis to iridocyclitis, keratitis and iritis, corneal ulcer, and panophthalmitis. In fact, of the 30,000,000 daily-wear contact lens users worldwide, one in every 2,500 will suffer pseudomonal infection; the odds increase by a factor of five – or one in every 500 – for those using extended-wear or overnight lenses. In the United States alone, 25,000 30,000 cases of microbial keratitis are reported annually with an estimated cost of between $15 and $30 million for treatment. The long-term objective of her studies is to reveal basic pathophysiological mechanisms of disease in the P. aeruginosa infected cornea. Her studies directly address a major objective of the current Corneal Diseases Program (National Plan for Eye and Vision Research) which parenthetically states, to “investigate corneal infectious processes and immunological responses and to develop treatments to reduce keratitis and prevent blindness.” Her studies integrate cellular and molecular biology and immunology and continue to elucidate novel targets in the immune response that will impact clinical care of patients with P. aeruginosa keratitis.
Dr. Hazlett has oversight of four course-directors who provide leadership for Year I medical student teaching (56% of Year I medical student teaching) and 2 graduate course directors. She meets with them as a group to assess teaching progress, course development, planning, teaching assignments and faculty performance. Although she does not participate in medical teaching, she educates graduate students (one graduated with the PhD in 2009 and is in a medical internship in Chicago); two are currently in training. She also provides mentorship to a Research Scientist and a Research Assistant Professor whom she has mentored and who has obtained his own R01 grant as PI (2008).
- Distinguished Professor (awarded 2008) Wayne State University
- Awarded NEI Core Center (P30) grant for 2008-2013 ($2.1 million total costs)
- Toll grant reviewed and funded 137 (3.3 percentile in 2008); Age grant R01 6 percentile; impact factor of 20; funding expected.
- Editorial Board Member-Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science (10 years)
- Chaired, Physiology Search 2008-2009
- Member, Academy of Scholars, Wayne State University
- ARVO Fellow: Gold medal level, 2009
- Invited Speaker Gordon Conference 2010, Biology and Pathobiology of the Cornea
- Sharon A. McClellan, Ronald P. Barrett, Yunfan Zhang, Linda D. Hazlett. Substance P exacerbates P. aeruginosa keratitis in resistant BALB/c mice. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 49:1502-1511, 2008.
- Szliter, E., Lighvani, S., Barrett, R.P., and Hazlett, L.D. VIP balances pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in the P. aeruginosa infected cornea and protects against corneal perforation. J. Immunol., 178:1105-1114, 2007.
- Wu, M., McClellan, S. A., Barrett, R. P., and Hazlett, L.D. Beta-defensin 2 promotes resistance against infection with P. aeruginosa. J. Immunol., 182:1609-1616, 2009.
- Hazlett, L. D., Q. Li, J. Liu, S. McClellan, W. Du, and R. Barrett. NKT cells are critical to initiate an inflammatory response after Pseudomonas aeruginosa ocular infection in susceptible mice. J. Immunol. 179:1138-1146, 2007.
- Hazlett, L.D.: The Corneal Response to Pseudomonas aeruginosa Infection. Progress in Retinal and Eye Research, 23(1):1-30, 2004 Review article).