• Adjunct Professor, Global Health
  • Professor, Env. and Occ. Health Sciences
  • Adjunct Professor, Pediatric Dentistry
Marilyn Roberts

1959 NE Pacific St
DEOHS School of Public Health
University of Washington
Box 357234
Seattle, WA 98195
United States

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Dr. Roberts' research interests include identification of vancomycin resistant enterococci [VRE] and methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA] in humans, animals and the environment and the relationship among these three in a variety of settings [One Health], the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and their distribution in various microbiomes and how resistance spreads through bacterial populations and ultimately, how these genes affect therapy. The laboratory has an ongoing project to isolate and characterize MRSA from primates, personnel and the environment from the Washington National Primate Research Center. Dr. Roberts is also working with people from the Indonesian primate center. Future work will look for MRSA in primate populations outside the USA, both in Primate centers and wild populations. The laboratory is also interested in antibiotic resistance in oral and urogenital bacteria in general. Another focus is on the oral pathogen Streptococcus mutants and how treatments affect the organism's cariogenic potential, as well as, levels in health and disease within the USA and in other countries.

My work looks at potential human pathogens E. coli and S. aureus and methicillin resistant S. aureus [MSSA/MRSA] using a One Health Approach where we sample humans, animals and their shared environment.  Currently we are looking at E. coli isolated from the Salish Sea. We are sampling marine water around shellfish beds, beaches, fresh water running into the Sea, seals both dead and alive, marine fish and river otters.  The other main project is looking at MRSA and MSSA in Nepal. We are sampling primates and their environment and comparing the St types to those found in the local community as well as worldwide. In both cases we are looking at  antibiotic and virulence genes carried in the environment and animals compared to human isolates. We are using Whole genome sequencing to compare isolates. 

  • PhD (University of Washington)
  • MS (University of Washington)
  • BS (University of Washington)
Country Affiliations 
Health Topics 
  • Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR)
  • Disease Surveillance
  • Environmental Health (incl. Climate Change)
  • Epidemiology
  • Genomics
  • Infectious Diseases (other than STDs)
  • One Health
  • Pathobiology
DGH Centers, Programs and Initiatives and Affiliated Organizations 

Roberts, M.C., J. Sutcliffe, P. Courvalin, L.B. Jensen, J. Rood, and H. Seppala. Nomenclature for macrolide and macrolide-lincosamide streptogramin B antibiotic resistance determinants. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 43:2823-2830, 1999. PMID 10582867

Roberts, M.C. Update on macrolide-lincosamide-streptogramin, ketolide and oxazolidinone (MLSKO) resistance genes. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 282: 147-159, 2008. PMID 1839999

Lin, J., Nishino, K., M.C. Roberts, M. Tolmasky, R. Aminov, and L. Zhang. Mechanisms of antibiotic resistance. 2015. Frontier in Microbiol: Antimicrobials Resistance & Chemotherapy. 6:34. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2015.00034 PMID:25699027

Roberts, M.C., G. Garland-Lewis, S. Trufan, J.S. Meschke, H. Fowler, R. Shean, A.L. Greninger and P.M. Rabinowitz. Distribution of Staphylococcus species in workers, cows, and shared diary farm environments. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 365, 2018 fny146 PMID: 29912375

Melendez, D., M.C. Roberts, A.L. Greninger, S. Weissman, D. No, P.M. Rabinowitz, S. Wasser. Whole genome analysis of extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC) multidrug resistant ST73 and ST127 isolated from endangered Southern Resident killer whales (Orcinus orca). PMID: 29668933