NIH awards Murphy grant to
continue study into cause of diarrheal disease
(ATHENS, Ohio – Aug 16, 2013) Erin Murphy, Ph.D., assistant
professor of bacteriology, received a $445,000 grant from the
National Institutes of Health to continue her research on the
bacterium causes the acute diarrheal disease shigellosis in humans,
which kills more than one million people around the world each year.
Murphy plans to investigate how two newly discovered, nearly
identical regulatory RNA molecules influence the survival
Shigella dysenteriae and/or the ability of the bacterium to
cause disease. She hopes to find out how these RNA molecules
influence Shigella physiology and if targeted disruptions of
one or both alter the ability of the bacterium to complete processes
essential for disease initiation and progression. These studies will
be a first step towards the long-term potential of manipulating the
small RNA molecules as a means to treat shigellosis.
global burden of shigellosis is due in part to the lack of a vaccine
to prevent the infection and the lack of a universally safe and
available antibiotic regimen to treat the infection,” Murphy
improved medical treatment for shigellosis could mean the difference
between life and death for people living in areas where clean
drinking water is scarce. Although primarily a problem in developing
countries, shigellosis also causes a reported 14,000 cases in the
United States annually. The Centers for Disease Control suggests
that the actual number may be 20 times higher, as mild cases often
aren't reported or diagnosed.
Graduate students will be involved in each step of the study, Murphy
said. “In this type of grant from the NIH, one of the components is
to encourage student training,” she said.
Participation by students will help provide them with practical
experience in the fields of bacterial pathogenesis and RNA-based
regulation, Murphy said. “The resulting combination of skills and
experience will position students well to contribute to the rapidly
advancing fields of ribo-regulation in pathogenic bacteria,
commensal bacteria and eukaryotic systems,” she said.