Gates Foundation Awards $1.2 Million for Bacterial Research

Gates Foundation Awards $1.2 Million for Bacterial Research

The Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University has announced a $1.2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to identify possible routes of transmission for Campylobacter bacteria in rural areas of Bangladesh.

According to the World Health OrganizationCampylobacter is one of four key causes of diarrheal diseases that can be fatal for very young children, the elderly, and immuno-suppressed individuals and is also associated with cognitive deficits and neurological conditions such as Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome. While the bacteria is commonly transmitted through undercooked poultry or direct contact with infected animals or humans, little is known about how it is transmitted to young children who have little or no contact with poultry or infected animals. 

The grant will support a two-year study of other potential sources of transmission such as contaminated water and wildlife by an international multidisciplinary team that includes microbiologists, food biologists, epidemiologists, and veterinarians. To be conducted in Mirzapur, an area about thirty miles from Dhaka, the study will be the first to examine the social, behavioral, environmental, genomic, and seasonal factors that affect how Campylobacter spreads.

"We're examining all the different ways children and their family members can be exposed to these harmful bacteria," said Amira Roess, principal investigator of the project and an assistant professor of global health at Milken Insitute SPH. "This interdisciplinary study allows us to look at the problem in a unique way. Ultimately, we hope to find possible interventions that could prevent these potentially lethal bacterial infections."

(Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)