Title: Professor and lab director of Core Services
College: Medicine
Department: Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine
Curriculum vitae: PDF
Research Interests: Pathology, microbial pathogenesis and molecular diagnostics
Hobbies: Volunteering for a feline non-profit, Siamese Rescue, and gardening


Dr. Judy Johnson researches microbial pathogenesis, antibiotic resistance, and pathways of transmission of bacterial species and genes within and between clinical, community and agricultural settings. She specializes in the bacterial genera Vibrio and Staphyloccocus. Dr. Johnson is also the director of core laboratory services in the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, acting as a conduit between researchers in the human health sciences and the Emerging Pathogens Institute.

In a broad sense, Dr. Johnson’s work investigates the causes of bacterial pathogenicity, and she specializes in researching the many different expressions and compositions of the polysaccharide surfaces that coat bacteria. She examines how the surface coating is constructed, how different constructions alter a bacterium’s environmental interactions, and how the structures evolve. She is also interested in what toxins are present and how toxins are transferred both between individual bacteria (horizontal gene transfer) and between bacterial species.

Dr. Johnson also uses genomic analysis to map out how genes are transferred between bacteria within certain genera, and the evolution of their pathogenesis, which has broad potential applications because knowing how they are transferred offers clues as to how to block them. She is particularly fascinated with the Vibrio genus, and she and her team have classified three major types of surface coatings within this genus. They are also learning how Vibrio produces these different coatings.

Dr. Johnson’s work extends from the lab to the real world, where she investigates microbial ecology, how bacteria travel in surface water, and how this movement interfaces with soil and vegetation. A better understanding of these processes will help in agricultural produce sectors where vegetables or fruits may be consumed raw. She is also interested in molecular epidemiology and examining how methicillin resistant bacterial strains are transferred within clinical and community settings.

Dr. Johnson moved to Florida in the fall of 2007 from the University of Maryland at Baltimore where she was a professor of pathology. In her spare time, Johnson helps rescue Siamese cats by volunteering for the non-profit, Siamese Rescue. She also enjoys gardening and is adapting her plant repertoire from her longtime home in Maryland to her comparatively sunnier yard at her new home in Florida.

Contact information:
University of Florida
2055 Mowry Road
P.O. Box 100009
Gainesville, Florida 32610-0009
Voice: (352) 273-9428
Fax: (352) 273-9430

Email: jajohnson@pathology.ufl.edu