The Forster Lab

Studying UTIs and the Urobiome in Children with Complex Genitourinary Tracts

Under the direction of principal investigator Catherine Forster, MD, MS, FAAP, this translational research lab is focused on studying urinary tract infections (UTIs) in people with complex genitourinary tracts. This mostly includes those with neurogenic bladders, either due to spina bifida or spinal cord injury.

People with neurogenic bladder often have bacteria in their urine, which can be normal or a sign of a UTI. It is currently difficult to tell when these bacteria are causing a UTI and when they are not. The reason it is important to determine whether or not bacteria in the urine are causing a UTI is to limit unnecessary antibiotics. People with neurogenic bladder get many antibiotics, which can lead to infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are difficult to treat. Our lab is focused on discovering ways to more accurately diagnose UTIs in people with neurogenic bladder.

Areas of Focus

Understanding the Urobiome in Children with Neurogenic Bladders

The urobiome refers to bacteria that exist within the bladder. Everyone has bacteria in their urine, although the amount and type of bacteria may be difficult to detect using standard urine cultures. People with neurogenic bladders have urobiomes that are different than the urobiomes in people with normally-functioning bladders.

We are interested in identifying:

  • How the urobiome in children with neurogenic bladder is different,
  • What causes these differences, and
  • Whether these differences are associated with an increased risk of UTI.

The Bladder’s Response to Changes in the Urobiome

The next step to understanding whether changes in the urobiome are important is to identify how the bladder tissue responds to changes in the urobiome. We use a variety of methods to characterize the interaction between the host bladder and the component of the urobiome.

Lab Team & Contact Information

Catherine Forster, MD, MS, FAAP

Principal Investigator

Nina Kowalewski
Laboratory Technician

Contact Us

The Forster Lab
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
John G. Rangos Sr. Research Center, Floor 7, Bay 5
4401 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224


The Association Between Urine Neutrophil Gelatinase-associated Lipocalin and UTI in People with Neurogenic Lower Urinary Tract Dysfunction
Forster CS, Lamanna OK, Rounds A, Sprague BM, Ljungberg I, and Groah SL
Spinal Cord, epub
2020 Sep 22

Novel Catheter Design Enables Transurethral Catheterization of Male Mice
Lamanna O, Hsieh MH, and Forster CS
American Journal of Physiology, Renal Physiology
2020 July 1

A Cross-sectional Analysis of the Urine Microbiome of Children with Neuropathic Bladders
Forster CS, Panchapakesan K, Stroud C, Banerjee P, Gordish-Dressman H, and Hsieh MH
Journal of Pediatric Urology
2020 Oct 1

A Single Intravesical Instillation of Probiotics is Safe in Children and Adults with Neuropathic Bladder: A Phase Ia Clinical Trial
Forster CS, Hsieh MH, Pérez-Losada M, Caldovic L, Pohl H, Ljungberg I, Sprague B, Stroud C, Groah S
Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, epub
2019 May 17

Predictive Ability of NGAL in Identifying Urinary Tract Infection in Children with Neurogenic Bladders
Forster CS, Jackson E, Ma Q, Bennett M, Shah S, and Goldstein S
Pediatric Nephrology
2018 Aug

Association Between Urodynamic Parameters and Urine NGAL Concentrations in Children with Neurogenic Bladders
Forster CS, Goldstein S, Pohl H, and Jackson E.
Journal of Pediatric Urology, epub
2019 Jan 23

Opportunities to Join

We'd Like to Hear From You!

The Forster Lab is looking for talented post-doctoral fellows and graduate students interested in joining our research initiatives. Please contact Dr. Forster via email if you are interested.