Bryant's antibiotics discovery group includes team of undergrads
A family of more than 40 potent antibacterial compounds developed by a Bryant professor and his team of undergraduate researchers is one step closer to being patented.
Chris Reid, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Science and Technology, and his collaborator, Brown University Associate Professor of Chemistry Amit Basu, Ph.D., have received preliminary patent protection that enables them to share their findings with the scientific community while further developing the compounds, which hold promise in the fight against MRSA, Clostridium difficile, and other drug-resistant bacterial infections. Already, scientists in Canada and England have indicated strong interest in the compounds, and Reid has been a guest speaker at Northeastern University and an American Chemical Society conference in San Diego.
Bryant undergraduate research fellows are crucial members of Reid’s antibiotic discovery team. Under Reid’s guidance in Bryant’s Microbial Glycomics Lab, the students harness the tools of microbiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and computational biochemistry to examine the actions of compounds. Many students have had their research manuscripts accepted for publication and have presented at scientific conferences. Several Microbial Glycomics Lab alumni have gone into biomedical research or to graduate school:
- Jennifer Brewster ’16 is a researcher at Tufts University’s Department of Biology, where she is looking at antibiotic resistance;
- Drew Phelan ’16 is a research assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Computational and Integrative Biology;
- Ryan Miller ’15, who will be listed as a co-inventor on the compounds’ patent, is a doctoral student in biology at Northeastern University;
- Jackie Kratch ’15 is in a doctoral program at the University of Toledo;
- Christina Nadolny '13 is pursuing a doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy.
Reid’s research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Rhode Island IDeA Network for Excellence in Biomedical Research (INBRE). This summer, as in summers past, several Bryant undergraduates received fellowships from the highly competitive R.I. Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program to advance development of the antimicrobials. Reid and Basu have submitted a preliminary application for a Catalyst Award from the Falk Medical Research Trust. The award would provide seed money to move Reid’s work from basic science into clinical practice.