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Mass. Eye and Ear awarded largest NIH grant in hospital’s history
Date:9/6/2011

harm they may even be protecting us from something worse. However, to hold them in check, a body needs to be in good health. Turf burns, as in the case of the St. Louis Rams football team, surgery or hospitalization, and other diseases can tip the balance in favor of the microbe. Among hospitalized patients, staphylococcal infection is the largest infectious disease problem, and its prevention is a top concern.

Dr. Gilmore recruited a team of investigators from across the Harvard University landscape, and also from industry, to tackle the problem of developing new drugs to treat these infections. Massachusetts General Hospital scientists and physicians Drs. Eleftherios Mylonakis, Fred Ausubel, and David Hooper are pursuing new strategies for discovering and testing drugs using model systems. Harvard Medical School professors Drs. Suzanne Walker and Roberto Kolter are using high-throughput robotics to identify potential drugs that target the bacterial cell surface, and its organization. Dr. Kolter and Harvard Faculty of Arts and Science professor Dr. Richard Losick are exploring new approaches for disorganizing bacterial biofilms, making the microbes easier to treat with new and existing antibiotics. Dr. Keeta Gilmore is responsible for coordinating the moving parts, and for cultivating an atmosphere that promotes synergy between projects. This group converges twice monthly at the Mass. Eye and Ear to discuss progress and to coordinate activities.

According to Dr. Gilmore, early efforts stemming originally from the Walker lab and involving most of the collaborators have already turned up one promising lead compound that is in its second generation. He hopes the five-year project will generate between five and ten promising and tested new compounds for fighting multidrug-resistant infection caused by staph and related microbes including the highly challenging vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus. A group consisting of Drs. Jared Silverman (Cubist Phar
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Contact: Mary Leach
Mary_Leach@meei.harvard.edu
617-573-4170
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
Source:Eurekalert

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