Southeast Awarded National Institutes of Health Research Grant

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $116,650 two-year federal research grant to Southeast Missouri State University for Dr. Jeremy Ellermeier to study gene regulation in a gastrointestinal pathogen of humans.

The grant is awarded through the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and will support a research project titled “Genetic regulation of the twin arginine translocation (Tat) system in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium,” led by Ellermeier, assistant professor of biology at Southeast.

“We have learned that the presence of bile in growth media increases expression of the genes encoding the Tat system,” Ellermeier said. “We want to understand how that is working.”

Ellermeier is a bacterial geneticist who uses molecular biology and genetics to study fundamental processes of bacterial cells. His primary research interest is in understanding the genetic regulation of critical processes in the human pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium.  He is particularly interested in the Tat system which is necessary for moving a specific subset of proteins and therefore must be activated and expressed at the appropriate time.

“Little is known about the gene expression of this system,” Ellermeier said. “So, the genetic regulation of the tat genes is an interesting topic for study.”

The NIH grant will support Ellermeier’s research in this area that he started in fall 2015. The research was initiated by a former Southeast graduate student, Gary Kays, while working on his thesis in Ellermeier’s laboratory. The grant period begins this spring and continues for two years.

Three Southeast undergraduate students — Adrienne Brauer of Oakford, Illinois; Anais Emelie of Le Francois, France; and Jenna Klingebiel of Wildwood, Missouri – and two graduate students – Anya Anokhin of St. Louis, Missouri; and Michaela Heaton of Bloomfield, Missouri – all biology majors, are assisting Ellermeier with his research in Rhodes Hall of Science.

“The research is critical to the development of these students.  All of the undergraduates that work in my lab have their sights set on graduate school in molecular biology or microbiology, and experience doing original research in the lab will help make them highly competitive candidates for prestigious Ph.D. programs around the country,” Ellermeier said.

This is the first NIH award Ellermeier has received as a principal investigator, he said.

“It is very rewarding to have a group of scientists on the peer review panel read about our work, preliminary data and research proposal and think it is worthy of funding,” he said.

At Southeast, Ellermeier teaches Immunology, Pathogenic Microbiology, General Microbiology, Microorganisms and Their Human Hosts and Bacterial Genetics.

This research was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R03AI144661. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.