Northeastern Microbiologist Wins Funding To Solve A Mystery

Professor of Biology Slava Epstein has won a prestigious million-dollar grant to do something scientists in the last hundred years have been unable to do: grow oral- disease causing organisms in a laboratory.

Epstein is the single Northeastern University recipient of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Challenge Grant. The NIH received more than 20,000 applications worldwide for 200 grants.

The grant program, created under the auspices of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, designated $200 million to fund grants for a broad spectrum of research areas.

“Obviously, this is a very big honor,” Epstein said, noting he is confident he will succeed with his objective to grow organisms and learn enough about their behavior to better inform scientists seeking to develop new medications and treatments for oral disease.

Epstein will collaborate with Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology Paul Vouros and Barnett Institute principal researcher Roger Kautz, as well as Bruce Pasteur of the Forsyth Institute in Boston.

The group will seek to demystify how organisms causing oral disease grow, and discover why researchers have been unable to grow them in the laboratory, Epstein said.
“By understanding why the organisms didn’t grow before, we hope to apply this research to other organisms that will not grow in the lab,” he explained.

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