Published 02/22/11

photo of Candida albicans

photo of Candida albicans by Graham Colm

Taking aim at fatal infection

SMITHFIELD, R.I.  (Feb. 22, 2011) -- A $200,000 grant from the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC) is helping a Bryant University biochemist find a treatment for a fungal infection that is often lethal to premature infants.

The funding -- the first ever received by Bryant from STAC -- supports a research collaboration between Christopher Reid, assistant professor in Bryant's Department of Science and Technology, and Joseph Bliss, M.D., of Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital.

A $200,000 grant is helping a Bryant biochemist find a treatment for a fungal infection that is often lethal to premature infants.

Together, they are taking aim at Candida albicans, a common fungus that can cause a systemic infection fatal to 60 percent of premature infants who contract it. Their research hopes to identify antigens that could be used as a target for a therapeutic antibody, which ultimately could help a premature infant's underdeveloped immune system combat a C. albicans infection.

The grant enables Reid to equip his lab for research he and his undergraduate students are conducting in glycolipidomics and proteomics - "areas that are exploding in biology," Reid said.

Reid works closely with his undergraduates to provide hands-on training and experience in the isolation and characterization of biomolecules. For example, students in his organic chemistry course are troubleshooting one component of the C. albicans research. In his Foundations in Pharmaceutical Science class, his students built a virtual biotech company. In groups, they selected a disease, decided how they were going to generate a product, and simulated the process of securing financing for their startup businesses.

A member of the American Chemical Society's Biological Chemistry Division, Reid has authored nearly 20 scholarly research articles, book chapters, and abstracts. He has also presented his research at a variety of conferences. He earned his Ph. D. in biochemistry from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and his Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of Waterloo and Laurentian University, respectively.