Scientists at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa have received a $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health ( NIH) over four years to study the functional genomics and interactions of bacterial species within biofilms. The team led by Tung Hoang, a professor in the department of microbiology, consists of seven graduate students and one postdoctoral researcher.
“Biofilms are organized microbial microcolonies or communities that form on solid surfaces. Biofilm-related infections, often feared by clinicians, are notoriously difficult to treat due to high levels of resistance,” Hoang said.
“This new NIH funding will allow us to establish the functions of selected bacteria in single- and mixed-species biofilms, to potentially better treat infections caused by these bacteria including Cystic Fibrosis lung infection, contact lens-related eye infections, bacterial endocarditis and other infections,” he said.
The Hoang team is also working to establish the molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis in tropical diseases such as melioidosis, glanders and, more recently, leprosy. The long-term goal is to develop diagnostics, vaccines and better treatments to these deadly diseases.
Over the past four years, the team has brought in this grant plus other NIH associated funding totaling $3 million to study bacterial infectious diseases.
“Our success depends heavily on funding and mentorship support from the Pacific Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Research at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, led by Richard Yanagihara, as well as the hard-working people on our team including Yun Kang, a UH graduate, and Michael Norris, a senior PhD student,” Hoang said.