RICHARDSON, Texas (March 29, 2006) — A research associate and a professor at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) have been awarded a three-year, $240,000 grant to study how bacterial communication affects the formation of biofilms, the culprit in many human bacterial infections.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded the grant to Dr. Audry Almengor, research associate, and Dr. Juan E. González, associate professor, in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology. The grant supports Almengor’s postdoctoral work at UTD.
“This is a very important area of study, since most of the bacteria that interact with animals or plants attach to surfaces, where they form biofilms,” González said. Biofilms are a collection of microorganisms that attach themselves to either an inert or living surface, and they exist wherever surfaces contact water.
In addition to being implicated in a “significant number” of human bacterial infections, biofilms can also cause product contamination and even equipment failure. Almengor’s research will seek to provide a better understanding of biofilm characteristics and behavior, which could then lead to the design of new strategies to eliminate biofilm formation. González noted the significance of Almengor’s research, as bacteria, especially in the form of a biofilm, become resistant to antibiotics and scientists seek new ways to control bacterial growth.
“I am convinced that what we are doing to understand bacterial communication will eventually lead to new ways to control bacterial growth,” González said. “This could potentially lead to novel antimicrobials and new treatments for infectious diseases.”
Almengor said that the biofilms she is studying are not formed by an infectious strain, but will provide a good model to better understand how bacterial communication affects biofilm formation and will help in creating new strategies to control such formation.
Almengor began her postdoctoral research at UTD in February 2006. She earned a B.S. degree in chemical engineering and microbiology from the University of Oklahoma and a Ph.D. degree in microbiology from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
González joined UTD in 1996 as an assistant professor. He was appointed associate professor in 2002. He earned a B.S. degree in microbiology and public health from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. degree in microbiology and molecular genetics from the University of California, Los Angeles. González was a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls nearly 14,500 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.