Antibiotic Resistance, Vaccines, Malaria among Projects Funded for U of I Researchers
June 27, 2018
University of Idaho researchers are trying to answer questions that could help slow the spread of antibiotic drug resistance, develop techniques to produce vaccines more quickly and help with treatment of malaria thanks to three federal grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The awards to Eva Top, Craig Miller and Holly Wichman in the College of Science and Shirley Luckhart in the colleges of Science and Agricultural and Life Sciences, total nearly $5 million to support multiyear studies aimed at improving disease treatment.
“We are proud that College of Science faculty have received national recognition,” said Ginger Carney, dean in the U of I College of Science. “Each project applies creative and transformative approaches to solving major human health-related problems.”
Michael Parrella, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, echoed Carney’s thoughts.
“College of Agricultural and Life Sciences researchers rank among the top experts in their fields,” he said. “This grant addresses one of the world’s great health challenges, and we are glad to play a role in helping people around the globe.”
U of I projects selected by NIH include:
- Antibiotic Resistance: Top, a professor of biology and director of U of I’s Bioinformatics and Computational Biology program, received more than $1.8 million over five years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to help develop strategies to slow the spread of multi-drug resistance in bacteria, a growing cause of deaths worldwide. Top and her team – which includes researchers from U of I, the University of Washington and University of Florida – will explore the processes that enable these bacteria to become resistant across multiple drugs.
- Vaccine Production: Miller, associate research professor of biological sciences ; and Wichman, distinguished professor and director of U of I’s Center for Modeling Complex Interactions ; obtained $1.16 million in renewed funding over four years from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) to conduct basic research on recoding viral genomes. The scientists are working on a process that could eventually lead to new live vaccine designs – like those to protect against polio and measles – and hope to identify strategies that would prevent viruses from evolving.
- Malaria-Induced Allergic Reactions: Luckhart, professor and co-director of U of I’s Center for Health in the Human Ecosystem , was awarded $1.9 million over four years by NIAID to study how malaria-induced allergic reactions damage the intestinal lining of humans. Known as “leaky gut,” this common and medically dangerous condition eventually allows intestinal bacteria to enter the bloodstream and complicate malaria treatment.
“We are grateful for this investment from both NIGMS and NIAID to support biomedical research at the University of Idaho,” said Janet E. Nelson, the university’s vice president for Research and Economic Development. “Our faculty are knowledgeable across a wide range of disciplines and exhibit an exceptional commitment to providing fundamental knowledge in efforts to improve health and well-being.”
Top’s research, “Plasmid-Bacteria Coevolution Promotes the Spread of Antibiotic Resistance,” was funded through National Institutes of Health grant No. 2 R01 AI084918 via the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The total amount of federal funds for the project is $1,816,801, which amounts to 100 percent of the total cost of the project.
Miller and Wichman’s project, “Patterns of Adaptive Evolution,” was funded through National Institutes of Health grant No. 2R01GM076040-10 via the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The total amount of federal funds for the project is $1,162,668, which amounts to 100 percent of the total cost of the project.
Luckhart’s research, “Malaria and Allergic Inflammatory Changes to the Gut Barrier,” was funded through National Institutes of Health grant No. R01 AI131609 via the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The total amount of federal funds for the project is $1,903,861, which amounts to 100 percent of the total cost of the project.
Marketing and Communications Manager
Office of Research and Economic Development
University of Idaho
About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at uidaho.edu