Dr. Secor and collaborators from the new UM Center for Translational Medicine have been funded to try a new approach to develop a vaccine to fight the pernicious and persistent bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This microbe has rapidly evolved to become multi-drug resistant and is an increasing problem for patients who have compromised immune function or a preexisting traumatic injury or disease. Their approach is to target the vaccine to a specific bacteriophage that commonly infects Pseudomonas and actually makes it LESS susceptible to antibiotics. Preliminary data suggest that this approach may work; the grant is to refine the method and demonstrate its effectiveness and specificity in combatting Pseudomonas infections.
The New York Times covers Steve Lane’s latest paper in Journal of Experimental Biology exploring how Antarctic sea spiders breathe. Read all about it in "Breathe Deep: How the Antarctic Sea Spider Gets Oxygen.”
The Graduate Assistant Teaching Award honors outstanding teaching conducted by graduate students. Nominators for Lauren Foltz, who is a Graduate Assistant in the Cell Molecular Microbial Biology Program in the Division of Biological Sciences, noted how she goes out of her way to help students learn. She was described as being particularly effective at helping students at all level understand difficult concepts in cell biology, often creating original diagrams of concepts and processes that made material more accessible to students. One student said of Lauren: “Her enthusiasm, personability, and commitment are unrivaled.”
Seven former UM students were awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships This Year. Congratulations to Dylan Gomes, Sarah Solie, Eric Dunham, Kim Ledger, Mariah McIntosh, Udo Onwubiko, and Sam Chase.
Sophia Richter (Hellgate High School) won the highest scoring 11th grade project at the 2018 Montana Tech Science Fair for her work on Wolbachia bacteria with Assistant Professor Brandon S. Cooper. Sophia also won "Best Project References" for the scholarship of her research paper. Finally, Sophia also received 3rd place overall at the Intermountain Junior Science and Humanities Symposium for her work. Together, these awards send Sophia to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and to the national Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. Congratulations, Sophia!
Patrick Secor, a new assistant professor in the University of Montana’s Division of Biological Sciences, recently won two grants for his research on the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Secor, who holds a doctorate in biological sciences and began work at UM in July, earned a Career Transition Award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for $250,000 over two years. The award – which assists young scientists who are transitioning from a mentored position, such as a postdoctoral fellow, to independent faculty – will allow Secor to conduct research, hire researchers and purchase key pieces of equipment.
Secor also earned a Transformational Award from the Falk Medical Research Trust. The Falk award, which is worth $1 million over two years, is split among Secor and researchers at Stanford, Ohio State and Baylor universities. The funding will go toward helping develop a human vaccine against the pathogen P. aeruginosa, which can cause infection in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis, non-healing wounds and many other hospital-acquired infections.
For more info, see the full release.
Assistant Professor Patrick R. Secor has been awarded a Transformational Award from the Dr. Ralph and Marian Falk Medical Research Trust. The two-year grant of $1 million dollars aims to fund Secor and his collaborators at Stanford University, The Ohio State, and Baylor University to develop therapeutics that target a filamentous bacteriophage, or a virus, that infects bacteria like Pseudomonas aeruginosa (See image). Secor and his collaborators at Stanford discovered that filamentous bacteriophage promote several pathogenic features of bacteria including enhanced antibiotic tolerance, desiccation survival, and bacterial adherence to mucosal surfaces (Cell Host & Microbe, 2015; 18:549-59; Infection and Immunity, 2017;85: e00648-16.
Assistant Professor Brandon S. Cooper has been awarded an R35 MIRA grant from the NIH ($1,802,630) to fund his research on interactions between endosymbiotic Wolbachia bacteria and their Drosophila fly hosts. This research will identify genetic and environmental contexts that promote Wolbachiaspread, which is crucial to explain the prevalence of Wolbachia infections in nature and to improve the efficacy of Wolbachia biocontrol. For more infomration, see UM's article regarding the grant.