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Sharon M. Tennant, PhD

Academic Title:


Primary Appointment:


Secondary Appointment(s):

Microbiology and Immunology


HSF-II, S355

Phone (Primary):

(410) 706-5336 (office)

Phone (Secondary):

(410) 706-5328 (lab)

Education and Training

The University of Melbourne (Honors), B.A./B.Sc., French/Psychology/Genetics/Microbiology, 1999

The University of Melbourne, Ph.D., 2005

  • Thesis: Identification of virulence factors of Yersinia enterocolitica biotype 1A

J.N. Peters Bequest Research Fellowship, The University of Melbourne, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, 2005-2007

Academic Fellow, University of Maryland School of Medicine Center for Vaccine Development (CVD), 2007-2008

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Maryland School of Medicine CVD, 2008-2010


Dr. Tennant joined the CVD at the University of Maryland School of Medicine as a postdoctoral fellow in 2007. She has built a research portfolio that centers on invasive non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS) from sub-Saharan Africa. Her accomplishments to date include development of:

  • Multiplex polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) to serotype Salmonella Typhimurium, S. Enteritidis, and S. Dublin. 
  • Live attenuated and reagent S. Typhimurium and S. Enteritidis vaccines and evaluation of vaccines in preclinical studies.
  • Diagnostic assays to detect NTS directly in blood.

She recently expanded her vaccine development research to include Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Dr. Tennant provides molecular biology and microbiology support for field studies and clinical trials performed domestically and internationally. She oversees the laboratory component of the Vaccine Impact on Diarrhea in Africa (VIDA) project that is examining the effect of rotavirus vaccine introduction on causes of diarrhea in Kenya, Mali, and The Gambia. Dr. Tennant supports all microbiology and molecular biology studies performed at CVD-Mali, Bamako, Mali.

Research/Clinical Keywords

Molecular biology, microbiology, bacterial pathogens, bacterial pathogenesis, invasive non-typhoidal Salmonella, vaccine introduction, vaccine development, PCR, rotavirus, global health, and diagnostic assay development.

Highlighted Publications

Feasey NA, Hadfield J, Keddy KH, Dallman TJ, Jacobs J, Deng X, Wigley P, Barquist L, Langridge GC, Feltwell T, Harris SR, Mather AE, Fookes M, Aslett M, Msefula C, Kariuki S, Maclennan C, Onsare RS, Weill FX, Hello SL, Smith AM, McClelland M, Desai P, Parry CM, Cheesbrough J, French N, Campos J, Chabalgoity JA, Betancor L, Hopkins KL, Nair S, Humphrey TJ, Lunguya O, Cogan TA, Tapia M, Sow S, Tennant SM, Bornstein K, Levine MM, Lacharme-Lora L, Everett DB, Kingsley RA, Parkhill J, Heyderman RS, Dougan G, Gordon MA, Thomson NR. Distinct Salmonella Enteritidis lineages associated with enterocolitis in high-income settings and invasive disease in low-income settings. Nature Genetics. 2016; 48(1211-1217).

Qamar FN, Nisar MI, Quadri F, Shakoor S, Sow SO, Nasrin, N, Blackwelder WC, Wu Y, Farag, T, Panchalingham S, Sur D, Qureshi S, Faruque ASG, Saha D, Alonso PL, Breiman RF, Bassat Q, Tamboura B, Ramamurthy T, Kanungo S, Ahmed S, Hossain A, Das SK, Antonio M, Hossain MJ, Mandomando I, Mintz ED, Tennant SM, Kotloff KL, Levine MM, Zaidi AKM. Aeromonas-associated diarrhea in children under 5 years: the GEMS experience. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2016; 16-0321.

Ramachandran G, Aheto K, Shirtliff ME, Tennant SM. Salmonella Typhimurium ST313. Pathogens and Disease. 2016; 74(5).

Ramachandran G*, Boyd MA*, MacSwords J, Higginson E.E., Simon R, Galen JE, Pasetti MF, Levine MM and Tennant SM. An opsonophagocytic assay to evaluate immunogenicity of non-typhoidal Salmonella vaccines. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2016; Mar 30. pii: CVI.00106-16. [Epub ahead of print]. (*co-first authors)

Ramachandran G*, Tennant SM*, Boyd MA, Wang JY, Tulapurkar ME, Pasetti MF, Levine MM, Simon R. Functional activity of antibodies directed towards flagellin proteins of non-typhoidal Salmonella. PLoS One. 2016; 11(3):e0151875. (*co-first authors)

Additional Publication Citations

Tennant SM*, Toema D*, Qamar F*, Iqbal N, Boyd MA, Marshall JM, Blackwelder WC, Wu Y, Quadri F, Khan A, Aziz F, Ahmad K, Kalam A, Asif E, Qureshi S, Khan E, Zaidi AK and Levine MM. Detection of typhoidal and paratyphoidal Salmonella in blood by real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction. Clin Infect Dis. 2015; 61 Suppl 4:S241-50. (*, co-first authors)

Tennant SM, Schmidlein PJ, Simon R, Pasetti MF, Galen JE, Levine MM. 2015. Refined live attenuated Salmonella Typhimurium and Enteritidis vaccines mediate homologous and heterologous serogroup protection in mice. Infect Immun. 2015; 83(12):4504-12.

Ramachandran G, Perkins DJ, Schmidlein PJ, Tulapurkar ME, Tennant SM. Invasive Salmonella Typhimurium ST313 with naturally attenuated flagellin elicits reduced inflammation and replicates within macrophages. PLOS Negl Trop Dis. 2015; 9(1):e3394.

Boyd MA*, Tennant SM*, Saague VA, Simon R, Muhsen K, Ramachandran G, Cross A, Galen JE, Pasetti MF, Levine MM. Serum bactericidal assays to evaluate typhoidal and non-typhoidal Salmonella vaccines. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2014; 21(5):712-21. (*co-first authors)

Ault A*, Tennant SM*, Gorres JP, Eckhaus M, Sandler NG, Roque A, Livio S, Bao S, Foulds K, Kao SF, Roederer M, Schmidlein P, Boyd MA, Pasetti MF, Douek DC, Estes JD, Nabel GJ, Levine MM, Rao SS. Safety and tolerability of a live oral Salmonella Typhimurium vaccine candidate in SIV-infected nonhuman primates. Vaccine. 2013; 31(49):5879-88. (*co-first authors)

Simon R, Wang JY, Boyd MA, Tulapurkar M, Ramachandran G, Tennant SM, Pasetti MF, Galen JE, Levine MM. Sustained protection in mice immunized with fractional doses of Salmonella Enteritidis core and O polysaccharide-flagellin glycoconjugates. PLoS One. 2013; 8(5):e64680.

Okoro CK, Kingsley RA, Connor TR, Harris SR, Parry CM, Al-Mashhadani MN, Kariuki S, Msefula CL, Gordon MA, de Pinna E, Wain J, Heyderman RS, Obaro S, Alonso PL, Mandomando I, Maclennan CA, Tapia MD, Levine MM, Tennant SM, Parkhill J, Dougan G. 2012. Intracontinental spread of human invasive Salmonella Typhimurium pathovariants in sub-Saharan Africa. Nat Genet. 2012; 44(11):1215-21.

Gat O, Galen JE, Tennant SM, Simon R, Blackwelder WC, Silverman DJ, Pasetti M, Levine MM. 2011. Cell-associated flagella enhance the protection conferred by mucosally-administered attenuated Salmonella Paratyphi A vaccines. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. Nov;5(11):e1373.

Simon R, Tennant SM, Wang JY, Schmidlein PJ, Lees A, Ernst RK, Pasetti MF, Galen JE, Levine MM. Salmonella Enteritidis core-O polysaccharide conjugated to H:g,m flagellin as a candidate vaccine for protection against invasive infection with S Enteritidis. Infect. Immun. 2011; 79(1):4240-9.

Tennant SM, Wang JY, Galen JE, Simon R, Pasetti M, Gat O, Levine MM. Engineering and pre-clinical evaluation of attenuated non-typhoidal Salmonella strains serving as live oral vaccines and as reagent strains. Infect. Immun. 2011; 79(10):4175-85.

Research Interests

Dr. Tennant's research interests span four broad areas: Global health, bacterial pathogenesis, vaccine development, and diagnostic assay development.

Global Health: As Head of the Molecular Diagnostics Section at CVD, Dr. Tennant provides laboratory support for the CVD field site in Bamako, Mali. She has performed routine blood culture surveillance in pediatric patients since 2002. Data show after Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae, NTS are the next common cause of bacteremia in Malian children. Infants under the age of two show the highest incidence of invasive NTS. Similar findings have been observed at other sites in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Tennant has developed PCR-based assays routinely used to identify Salmonella serovars in Mali.

Bacterial Pathogenesis: Dr. Tennant has investigated the pathogenesis of invasive S. Typhimurium strains from Mali and found S. Typhimurium ST313 strains circulating in sub-Saharan Africa are phenotypically very different from ST19 strains, the most common genotype found throughout the world.

Vaccine Development: Data from blood culture surveillance efforts in Mali, West Africa, show invasive NTS are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Tennant developed live attenuated and conjugate vaccines that target the most common serovars, S. Typhimurium and S. Enteritidis. She has developed live attenuated NTS vaccine strains and reagent strains that can be used for safe and economical purification of components for NTS conjugate vaccines. Dr. Tennant currently has a Wellcome Trust translation award to further develop and evaluate these conjugate vaccines licensed by Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad, India. A U.S. patent for these vaccines was awarded in XX to Drs. Levine, Galen, Tennant, and Simon. Dr. Tennant's lab continues to develop live attenuated and conjugate Salmonella vaccines under a variety of funding sources where she serves as the principal investigator (PI) or co-investigator.

Diagnostic Assay Development: The current standard for diagnosis of typhoid and paratyphoid is blood culture detection. However, many health care centers lack blood culture facilities. Furthermore, blood culture is estimated to have a sensitivity of approximately 50 percent and it can take several days for invasive Salmonella to be detected and then identified using standard microbiological techniques. Dr. Tennant has served as PI or co-investigator on several diagnostic studies investigating alternative methods to detect typhoidal and non-typhoidal Salmonella directly in blood that do not require incubation. Her role is to oversee the laboratory development and field testing of the assays, one of which was recently evaluated in the field, in Karachi, Pakistan.

Lab Techniques and Equipment

Dr. Tennant's laboratory is fully equipped to perform microbiology and molecular biology research.


  • 7 biological safety cabinets
  • Thermal cyclers
  • 1 ABI 7500 FAST Dx real-time PCR machine
  • Electroporator
  • Microcentrifuges
  • BioRad Gel-Doc
  • Agarose gel electrophoresis chambers
  • Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis chambers
  • Power supplies
  • Waterbaths, vortexes etc.
  • Microscopes
  • Minus 80 freezers
  • Incubators
  • Incubator/shakers
  • PCR hood
  • Benchtop centrifuge
  • BioRad Transblot semi-dry transfer apparatus
  • 2 Nanodrops

Links of Interest


US Patents

9,050,283: Broad spectrum vaccine against non-typhoidal Salmonella, 2016.

  • Inventors: Myron M. Levine, Raphael Simon, James Galen, and Sharon Tennant

9,011,871: Broad spectrum vaccine against typhoidal and non-typhoidal Salmonella disease, 2015.

  • Inventors: Myron M. Levine, James Galen, Raphael Simon, and Sharon Tennant

Patent application PCT/US2015/051032: Broad spectrum conjugate vaccine to prevent Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections.

  • Inventors: Raphael Simon, Alan S. Cross, and Sharon M. Tennant

Provisional patent application number 62/146,545: Compositions and methods for producing bacterial conjugate vaccines.

  • Inventors: Raphael Simon, Myron M. Levine, and Sharon M. Tennant