Ephraim Tsalik, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Member of Duke Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine
Campus mail Box 102359 DUMC, Durham, NC 27710
Phone (919) 684-3114
Email address e.t@duke.edu

My research is focused on understanding the dynamic between host and pathogen so as to discover and develop host-response markers that can diagnose and predict health and disease.  This new and evolving approach to diagnosing illness has the potential to significantly impact individual as well as public health considering the rise of antibiotic resistance.

With any potential infectious disease diagnosis, it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine at the time of presentation what the underlying cause of illness is.  For example, acute respiratory illness is among the most frequent reasons for patients to seek care. These symptoms, such as cough, sore throat, and fever may be due to a bacterial infection, viral infection, both, or a non-infectious condition such as asthma or allergies.  Given the difficulties in making the diagnosis, most patients are inappropriately given antibacterials.  However, each of these etiologies (bacteria, virus, or something else entirely) leaves a fingerprint embedded in the host’s response. We are very interested in finding those fingerprints and exploiting them to generate new approaches to understand, diagnose, and manage disease.

These principles also apply to sepsis, defined as life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. Just as with acute respiratory illness, it is often difficult to identify whether infection is responsible for a patient’s critical illness.  We have embarked on a number of research programs that aim to better identify sepsis; define sepsis subtypes that can be used to guide future clinical research; and to better predict sepsis outcomes.  These efforts have focused on many systems biology modalities including transcriptomics, miRNA, metabolomics, and proteomics.  Consequently, our Data Science team has utilized these highly complex data to develop new statistical methods, furthering both the clinical and statistical research communities.

Synergy between multi-disciplinary experts is crucial to tackle the threats posed by infectious diseases and the rise in antimicrobial resistance. We have successfully assembled a team of clinical scientists, data scientists, laboratorians, clinical research coordinators, among many others. Potential collaborators are encouraged to contact us.

These examples are just a small sampling of the breadth of research Dr. Tsalik and his colleagues conduct.  Please visit https://precisionmedicine.duke.edu/ for more details.

Education and Training

  • Fellowship in Infectious Diseases, Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, 2008 - 2011
  • Residency, Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, 2005 - 2008
  • M.D., Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, 2005
  • Ph.D., Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, 2003

Publications

DeMerle, Kimberley M., Derek C. Angus, J Kenneth Baillie, Emily Brant, Carolyn S. Calfee, Joseph Carcillo, Chung-Chou H. Chang, et al. “Sepsis Subclasses: A Framework for Development and Interpretation.” Crit Care Med 49, no. 5 (May 1, 2021): 748–59. https://doi.org/10.1097/CCM.0000000000004842.

PMID
33591001
Full Text

McClain, Micah T., Florica J. Constantine, Bradly P. Nicholson, Marshall Nichols, Thomas W. Burke, Ricardo Henao, Daphne C. Jones, et al. “A blood-based host gene expression assay for early detection of respiratory viral infection: an index-cluster prospective cohort study.” Lancet Infect Dis 21, no. 3 (March 2021): 396–404. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30486-2.

PMID
32979932
Full Text

McClain, Micah T., Florica J. Constantine, Ricardo Henao, Yiling Liu, Ephraim L. Tsalik, Thomas W. Burke, Julie M. Steinbrink, et al. “Dysregulated transcriptional responses to SARS-CoV-2 in the periphery.” Nat Commun 12, no. 1 (February 17, 2021): 1079. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21289-y.

PMID
33597532
Full Text

Doernberg, Sarah B., Lauren Komarow, Thuy Tien T. Tran, Zoe Sund, Mark W. Pandori, David Jensen, Ephraim L. Tsalik, et al. “Simultaneous Evaluation of Diagnostic Assays for Pharyngeal and Rectal Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis Using a Master Protocol.” Clin Infect Dis 71, no. 9 (December 3, 2020): 2314–22. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciz1105.

PMID
31734695
Full Text

Liu, Ying, Ephraim L. Tsalik, Yunyun Jiang, Emily R. Ko, Christopher W. Woods, Ricardo Henao, and Scott R. Evans. “Average Weighted Accuracy: Pragmatic Analysis for a Rapid Diagnostics in Categorizing Acute Lung Infections (RADICAL) Study.” Clin Infect Dis 70, no. 12 (June 10, 2020): 2736–42. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciz437.

PMID
31157863
Full Text

Adamson, Paul C., Mark W. Pandori, Sarah B. Doernberg, Lauren Komarow, Zoe Sund, Thuy Tien T. Tran, David Jensen, et al. “Analytical Evaluation of the Abbott RealTime CT/NG Assay for Detection of Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae in Rectal and Pharyngeal Swabs.” J Mol Diagn 22, no. 6 (June 2020): 811–16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmoldx.2020.03.004.

PMID
32247863
Full Text

Tillekeratne, L Gayani, Sunil Suchindran, Emily R. Ko, Elizabeth A. Petzold, Champica K. Bodinayake, Ajith Nagahawatte, Vasantha Devasiri, et al. “Previously Derived Host Gene Expression Classifiers Identify Bacterial and Viral Etiologies of Acute Febrile Respiratory Illness in a South Asian Population.” Open Forum Infect Dis 7, no. 6 (June 2020): ofaa194. https://doi.org/10.1093/ofid/ofaa194.

PMID
32617371
Full Text

Brandsma, Joost, Will J. Thompson, Deborah A. Striegel, Paul W. Blair, Josh Chenoweth, Subramaniam Krishnan, Kevin Schully, et al. “METABOLOMICS BIOMARKER DISCOVERY IN SEPSIS PATIENTS FROM AUSTERE ENVIRONMENTS.” In Shock, 53:74–74, 2020.

Scholars@Duke

Blair, Paul W., George Oduro, Chris Oppong, Stephen Okello, Charmagne Beckett, Andrew Letizia, Anne Fox, et al. “THE PERFORMANCE OF QSOFA IN PATIENTS WITH SUSPECTED SEPSIS IN CAMBODIA, GHANA, UGANDA, AND THE UNITED STATES.” In Shock, 53:91–91, 2020.

Scholars@Duke

Robertshaw, M., E. L. Tsalik, V. Chu, A. Limkakeng, J. Katz, S. Glickman, M. McClain, E. Welty-Wolf, and C. Woods. “Serum Procalcitonin Trends in Hospital-Acquired Infections: A Prospective Multi-Center Observational Cohort.” In American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol. 201, 2020.

Scholars@Duke

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