NIH awards $10.2 million contract to Michigan State for microbiology research unit

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The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $10.2 million research contract to a multidisciplinary team of researchers at Michigan State University to establish a Microbiology Research Unit exploring the genetics of microorganisms that cause food and waterborne infectious diseases.

Announced in October 2003, the NIH award is part of the new Food and Waterborne Diseases Integrated Research Network of research laboratories launched by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The NIAID aims to establish eight research units nationwide in four areas: microbiology, immunology, clinical concerns, and zoonoses.

The microbiology unit at Michigan State's National Food Safety & Toxicology Center is one of two such units in the nation, the other being at Tufts University (see JAVMA, Dec. 1, 2003, page 1557).

Faculty from the university's College of Veterinary Medicine comprise much of the research team, along with several members of the center, which is overseen by the veterinary college. Two co-investigators are veterinarians: Drs. Linda Mansfield and A. Mahdi Saeed. Drs. Paul Bartlett, Carole Bolin, and Roger Maes serve as liaisons and consultants for clinical studies and interaction with other research units.

The team forms a core component of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. Dr. Lonnie King, dean of the veterinary college, heads this initiative. The center aims to stimulate research and surveillance of infectious agents affecting animals and humans.

The team is responsible for advancing molecular techniques and databases to identify pathogenic strains including Escherichia coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, and Salmonella; investigating factors involved in the emergence of new Salmonella strains; developing animal models for understanding Campylobacter infection and pathogenesis; and developing microarray technology targeted for rapid detection of diverse pathogens. The team will also respond to emergency national needs.

The team will also be working with researchers at the University of Michigan, University of Maryland, and the Michigan Department of Community Health.