March 23, 2023
Biology professor awarded grant to study pathogenic features of a microbe
Revathi Govind, associate professor of biology, received a grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — one of the 27 institutes that make up the National Institutes of Health.
The $417,000 project will focus on Clostridioides difficile, also known as C. diff, a ubiquitous bacterium that is considered an emerging human pathogen causing diarrhea and life-threatening inflammation of the colon.
The human intestine is full of beneficial bacteria that contribute to our health and well-being. C. diff can thrive in our intestine when these beneficial bacteria are absent; for example, when patients receive treatments with antibiotics. Once abundant, C. diff exhibits two pathogenic features: it can produce harmful toxins or undergo sporulation, a process during which tough resting spores are produced.
Govind will study a gene that controls aspects of toxin production and sporulation. Specifically, she will test how different mutations in the control gene impact the different pathogenic features.
"Since these mutations occur in clinical isolates, characterizing them will uncover strategies C. diff uses for successful colonization and infection," Govind said.
This knowledge will help the design of new treatments to manage C. diff infections.