- Early career investigator
William DePas, PhD, earned his BS in Microbiology from Michigan State University in 2008 and his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Michigan in 2014. As a Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation postdoctoral fellow at Caltech, he worked on developing and utilizing novel imaging techniques to better understand the infection environment, specifically investigating the role of bacterial biofilm formation during chronic infections in CF. Dr. DePas joined the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases as an assistant professor in 2019.
The DePas lab is focused on developing a clear picture of the biogeography of infection sites, determining how the spatial structure impacts bacterial activity and interactions with host cells, and recapitulating important aspects of the infection environment in vitro in order to gain an in-depth understanding of cellular processes that are relevant to pathogenesis. To achieve these goals, we utilize MiPACT-HCR, a tissue-clearing and cellular visualization technique that allows for 3D imaging of fixed tissue samples, along with in vitro techniques to characterize the formation and dispersal of bacterial biofilms in conditions that mimic the in vivo environment. We are chiefly interested in nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), emerging pathogens that are particularly problematic for patients with CF. By applying our described methodology, we are working to determine the context in which NTM form biofilms during infection and how biofilm formation contributes to disease severity.