Faculty & Staff
Dr. Natasha Dean
Office Rm # 223
Research Lab Rm # 220
Phone Extension: 2127
Dr. Dean earned her bachelor and master's degrees in biology from Walla Walla University in 1994 and 2001, respectively. She received her Ph.D in microbiology and molecular genetics from Loma Linda University in 2004.
Dr. Dean’s current duties include teaching Tools and Methods III, Basic Medical Microbiology, upper division Microbiology and Biology Seminar. She also is academic advisor to approximately 28 students.
Current Research Interests
Dr. Dean's research focuses primarily on microbial ecology with an emphasis on microbial diversity (prevalence and distribution) and microbial behavior. The lab currently investigates the role that enteric microbiota may play in the aging process, using osteoporosis as the model of aging. Research into the human microbiome suggest that intestinal microbes affect several body systems primarily through inflammation, leading to chronic diseases such as irritable bowl syndrom, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. Because osteoporosis can also be considered a chronic inflammatory disease, this model of aging is expected to elucidate the effects that enteric microbes may have on human systems distant from the digestive tract and add to the growing body of knowledge on this subject. The lab examines the effects of secreted bacterial proteins on an osteosarcoma cell line, looking specifically at bone deposition and mineralization. This reseach has far-reaching implications in the area of health care and health disparities for the elderly but also builds on the role microbes play in musculoskeletal diseases.
Membership and Affiliations
Dr. Dean is a member of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) and the Phi Omega Chapter of the Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society.