USD professor earns $900,000 grant from NIH

USD professor earns $900,000 grant from NIH Michael Chaussee, a professor at The University of South Dakota School of Medicine, has been awarded $900,000 from the National Institutes of Health to study alternatives to antibiotics in controlling infectious disease. Such alternatives are likely to become critical in the future if bacteria continue to acquire antibiotic resistance at the current rate.

The preliminary work included in the grant proposal was done by a research associate, Michelle Chaussee, a graduate student, Chris Wangsness (who is now in medical school), and undergraduate students from USD and Augustana College, including Lindsey Rieck, Sihong Lai, and Adam Heisinger from USD and Jacob Quail and Kelly Christensen from Augustana.

Chaussee and his associates are particularly interested in preventing human diseases caused by strep infection, a common bacterial parasite that infects humans. Strep infection does not necessarily cause disease and usually results in "strep-throat."

However in some cases, infection can lead to life-threatening diseases such as flesh-eating disease.

Several years ago, Chaussee identified a protein, called Rgg, which controls strep infection. The NIH award will fund work designed to determine how Rgg controls strep infection.

"We are particularly excited about receiving the award because the work takes advantage of a recent expansion at the USD School of Medicine in genomic technologies such as DNA 'chips' and proteomics, which was made possible by a previous NIH award," said Chaussee.

Chaussee graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in microbiology in 1989.�He went on to receive his Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in 1995.

From 1995 to 2001, Chaussee was a research fellow at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, Montana, which is a government research facility operated by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, NIH.

He joined the Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences at The University of South Dakota School of Medicine as an assistant professor in September 2001.

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