• Fri. Dec 8th, 2023
.7M for human and environmental microbial research
Andrea Jani, COBRE Research Project Leader, in her lab

University researchers Hawaii Manoa received $10.7 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study how exposure to microbes affects human health and how microbes are affected by environmental and socioeconomic gradients. HawaiiHow an animal’s microbiome confers persistent health (using invertebrate hosts).

“We want to develop the next generation of the best and brightest researchers who are experts in studying environmental microbes and their interactions with humans,” said principal investigator Anthony Amend, a professor at the Pacific Biosciences Research Center.PBRC).

Construction is in phase 1

The latest grant from NIH Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) is considered a Phase 2 grant. Five years ago, a $10.4-million Phase 1 grant was put into action UH Manoa Integrative Center for Environmental Microbiology and Human Health (ICEMHH) to emerge as a recognized center of excellence in understanding the ways in which environmental microbes influence human health, using approaches ranging from molecular and chemical to ecological.

In addition to significant scientific results, including 35 publications and more than $22 million in extramural investigator grants, Phase 1 investigators have helped establish world-class field sites on multiple islands around the world. Hawaiis unique steep ecological gradients, and develop trackable, localized, model host systems to understand microbiome impacts on host health and physiology.

COBRE Phase 2 builds on Phase 1 and consists of four research projects:

Two men looking at a fly trap in a field
Alex Zamory and Kelly Konizek collect flies at Manoa
  1. Mohammad Arif, Assistant Researcher in Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences, is studying the sources of foodborne pathogens and the mechanisms of how they establish in crops.
  2. Eleanor Haglund, assistant professor of chemistry, is researching microbiome interactions with the hormone leptin. Drosophila (fruit fly) obesity.
  3. Andrea Jani, Assistant Researcher PBRC Examining the interaction between the microbiome and disease Drosophila models.
  4. Corey Miller, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health, is researching factors that influence the vaginal microbiome and its role in preterm births.

Life science at heart

“Heart” ICEMHH Isabella Iona is the Abbott Life Sciences building (L.S.B), which houses teaching and research labs and three main facilities for microscopy, genomic analysis, and an insecticide. The building houses five graduate, current and proposed labs COBRE Researchers and major facility directors. About 65% of the total research space is occupied ICEMHH Personnel and facilities.

“What COBRE Allowing us to combine ecology and then ecological diversity Hawaii And these Hawaiian systems with human health concepts,” Janney said. “That’s a big, complex thing, and it takes a lot of collective effort to do it.”

Applications to infectious diseases

Next to the two flies
Drosophila crucigeraA species of Hawaiian figure-wing

It’s Janie’s lab L.S.B. She is mentored by Phase 1 researcher Joanne Yu, who oversees the Microbial Genomics and Analytical Laboratory Core Facility.

“The COBRE “It energizes the state of microbiome research at the university,” Yu said. “So, it will attract people to come here and do microbiome research — attract and build the intellectual environment.”

Janie conducts research on how the fruit fly microbiome responds to infection.

“Fruit flies allow us to study this infection process of infectious diseases and to conceptually understand what causes the microbiome to be stable or unstable in the context of infection,” Janney said. “And then we can begin to apply some of the ecological principles in particular, the environmental factors that contribute to stability, to humans.”

Beyond direct advances to human and environmental health, COBRE Allow benefits too Hawaii Residents in other ways.

“Our Phase 1 investigators have been awarded more than $22 million in external grants, mostly from federal agencies, all of which go back to the state based on salary and expertise,” Amend said. “It’s really been a blessing—not just for the university—but for the people here Hawaii such as.”

By Kelly Abe Trifonovitch

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