Dr. Harkins’ research is in biofilm growth of pathogenic fungi. Biofilms are highly organized communities of microorganisms that are able to adhere to surfaces, proliferate and produce an extracellular matrix for protection. It is estimated that 70% of all infections of the human body are caused by a biofilm. The yeast Candida albicans is now the 3rd most common cause of blood stream infections in hospitalized patients. C. albicans can form efficient biofilms on medical devices that are inserted into the human body, which allow it to gain entry into the bloodstream. Once a biofilm is formed, it is very difficult to treat since the biofilm can be up to 1000 times more resistant to antimicrobial therapy.
The lab’s focus is in understanding the adherence of the organism to different types of plastics that are used in many of the medical devices, such as catheters. We have studied the role of certain enzymes that are involved in adherence and mature biofilm growth of clinical isolates of C. albicans and other species. A goal of the lab is to help determine and define signaling proteins needed by the isolates for biofilm formation, which may ultimately lead to new targets of antimicrobial therapy.
Dr. Harkins also has many collaborative projects with faculty in the Exercise Science Program, Physical Therapy and Chemistry departments including genotyping, measuring cytokines, chemistries, hormones and performing microbiological assays.
- Clinical and Translational Science Institute - 2011-2013
Effect of Acetyl-L-Carnitine on Fatigue, Muscle Function, and Brain N-Acetylaspartate in Multiple Sclerosis
Purpose: To determine whether acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) lessens fatigue in persons with MS and, if so, by what mechanisms.
- National Institute of Health - 2011-2014
Neuromuscular Fatigue: Age and Sex Differences
Purpose: To understand underlying factors that exacerbate fatigue with age, by examining cognitive and genetic factors that contribute to greater neuromuscular fatigue and pain during static postural motor tasks of the upper limb especially in older women.
- American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science - 2010
Analysis of a Potential Virulence Factor During Biofilm Formation of Candida albicans Purpose: To determine both the biochemical activity and protein expression of phospholipase D1 in clinical isolates of C. albicans during biofilm formation to further investigate virulence factors as potential targets of antifungal development.
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society - 2007-2010
Bone mineral density in MS: Endogenous and Exogenous factors
Purpose: To determine the associations and interactions of endogenous cortisol, vitamin D (25(OH)D), physical activity, heart rate variability, pro-inflammatory cytokines and depression on bone mineral density in persons with MS.
- April L. Harkins and Erik Munson. Molecular Diagnosis of Sexually-transmitted Chlamydia trachomatis in the United States. Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology. June 12, 2011 (Epub ahead of print). DOI: 10.5402/2011/279149.
- Keller M, Pruse J, Yoon T, Schlinder De-Lap B, Harkins AL, and Hunter SK. Supraspinal fatigue is similar in men and women for a low-force fatiguing contraction. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Feb 28, 2011 (Epub ahead of print). DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318216ebd4.
- Hoeger Bement MK, Weyer A, Hartley S, Drewek B, Harkins AL, and Hunter SK. Pain Perception after Isometric Exercise in Women with Fibromyalgia. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 92(1): 89-95, 2011.
- Hoeger Bement M, Weyer A, Keller M, Harkins A, Hunter SK. Anxiety and stress can predict pain perception following a cognitive stress. Physiology and Behavior 101(1): 87-92, 2010.
- Harkins AL, Yuan G, London SD, Dolan JW. An oleate stimulated, calcium independent phospholipase D in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. FEMS Yeast Research 10(2010) 717-726.
- Hoeger Bement M, Rasiarmos R, DiCapo R, Lewis A, Keller M, Harkins A, Hunter S. The role of the menstrual cycle phase in pain perception before and after an isometric fatiguing contraction, European Journal of Applied Physiology 106 (2009) 105-112.
- Yoon T, Keller ML, Harkins A, Schlinder-Delap B, Lepers R & Hunter SK. Sex differences in fatiguing motor performance in response to cognitive stress. Journal of Applied Physiology, Journal of Applied Physiology 107 (2009)1486-96.
- Harkins AL, London SD, Dolan JW. An Upstream Regulator and Downstream Target of Phospholipase D1 Activity During Pheromone Response in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. FEMS Yeast Res 8 (2008) 237-244.
- April L. Harkins, Douglas Woo, Mary Ellen Csuka, Benjamin A Ingraham, Brice Cleland, Molly Pitluck, Paula Papanek, Alexander Ng. Analysis of Bone Mineral Density Biomarkers and Physical Activity in MS. American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, July, 2011.
- Phyu Thwe and April Harkins. Analysis of PLD1 activity and biofilm formation of Candida albicans in respiratory samples. American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science national meeting, July 2010, Anaheim, CA.
- Dentino A, Lee D, Wen G, Hefti A, Sutkeiwicz F, and A Harkins. Inhibition of Candida albicans biofilms on antimicrobially loaded phosphated poly(methyl-methacrylate). International Association for Dental Research, July 2010, Barcelona, Spain. Submitted
- Alexander V Ng, Douglas Woo, April Harkins, Mary Ellen Csuka, Benjamin A Ingraham, Brice Cleland, Molly Pitluck, Paula Papanek. Moderate Physical Activity is Associated with Bone Density in Persons with MS. The Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers Annual Meeting, June 2010. Submitted
- Wagner N, Miskulin D and Harkins AL. Phospholipase D1 analysis during biofilm formation of Candida albicans. Clinical Laboratory Science 22(3); 161, 2009. American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science national meeting, July 2009, Chicago, IL.
- Michael Lukowski and April Harkins. Analysis of PLD1 activity during phenotypic switching and pseudohyphal growth of Candida glabrata. Clinical Laboratory Science 22(3); 161, 2009. American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science national meeting, July 2009, Chicago, IL.
- Ingraham, B.A., Woo, D., Heyer, E., Harkins, A., Dixon, J., and A.V. Ng. Cortisol contributes to symptomatic fatigue and heart rate variability in persons with multiple sclerosis. American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, 2009, Med Sci Sports Exerc 41: S417, 2009.
- Ng. A.V., Woo, D., Harkins, A., Csuka, M.E., Ingraham, B.A., Dixon, J., and P.E. Papanek. Determinants of bone mineral density in persons with multiple sclerosis. American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, 2009, Med Sci Sports Exerc 41: S592, 2009.
- Miskulin D, Munson E, and Harkins AL. Characterizing Phospholipase D1 Activity in Candida albicans Isolates from Different Host Sites. Clinical Laboratory Science 21(2), pg 143; 2008. American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science national meeting, July 2008, Washington D.C.
- Hoeger Bement MK, Keller ML, Harkins AL, Hunter SK. Cortisol levels before and after isometric contractions are not influenced by the menstrual cycle. American Pain Society national meeting, Tampa, FL, May, 2008.
- Keller ML, Harkins AL, Yoon T, Schlinder-Delap B, Hunter SK. Cognitive and physical stressor increases salivary cortisol before and after a low-force fatiguing contraction. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 40(5), S349; 2008. American College of Sports Medicine National Annual Meeting, May 2008, Indianapolis, IN.
- Dalal M, Josse F, Schneider S, Harkins AL. Work in progress: Monitoring mold growth using acoustic wave devices. Marquette University, Sigma Xi Symposium local meeting, April 2008.
- Clinical Laboratory Educators National Conference, Biloxi, MS, February 2010
“Tricks of the Trade: Laboratory Techniques for the Molecular Classroom”
- Clinical Laboratory Educators National Conference, Savannah, GA, February 2008
“Bridging the Gap: Clinical Lab Experience for the Non-laboratorians.”
- College of Health Sciences Summer Research Program, 2009
Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
“Beyond Bread and Beer: Yeast in the Research World”
- College of Health Sciences Summer Research Program, 2007
Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
“The Role of Phospholipase D1 and Phosphatidic Acid in Yeast Cell Polarity”
- Racine/Kenosha Regional Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, 2006 Kenosha, WI
“Beyond Beer and Bread: The Important Role of Yeast in the Clinical and Research Labs.”