Notes from the ARAC Lab
One of the unique aspects of ARAC is that we have a team of researchers working day in and day out to study antibiotic resistance and develop novel solutions to fight superbugs. We prioritize closing critical knowledge gaps regarding the public health impact of antibiotic overuse and misuse in people and animals so that all the major drivers of antibiotic resistance are properly addressed. Each month, we feature a Notes from the Lab feature in our newsletter. Below are some highlights on our lab team and what they are working on!
What It Means to Expand A Research Project
We highlighted last month that ARAC received a grant from the Wellcome Trust to study the impacts of California’s new legislation limiting the use of antibiotics given to livestock raised in the state. This grant builds upon work already underway by the ARAC team. Our staff has been testing retail chicken and human biological samples in Southern California for antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria. Wellcome’s funding is allowing us to expand the study to encompass all major meat types and two additional bacteria. Find out what this actually means for our lab’s day-to-day work.
ARAC Receives $3 Million Grant to Study Impacts of Limiting Antimicrobial Drug Use in Livestock
ARAC received a $3.1 million (£2.74 million) grant from the Wellcome Trust to study the impacts of California’s new legislation limiting the use of antimicrobial drugs given to livestock raised in the state. California’s new law regulating the use of antibiotics in food animals took effect on January 1. The law is the first in the United States to ban uses of antibiotics for routine disease prevention in food animal production.
DNA extraction is one of the first steps to most of the things that we do in our laboratory. Learn more about what DNA extraction is, how it’s done and why it’s so important to our work. Plus, we highlight our recent opportunity to teach young students how to extract DNA from strawberries and their own saliva! We hope these bright minds will go on to improve the DNA extraction process and the field of microbiology in the future!
Robots in the Lab!
We were super excited for the premiere of the new Star Wars movie trailer a few weeks ago, but until that comes out in theaters, we have to entertain ourselves with the robots we have in the lab! Enter our latest crown jewels - the Hamilton Star and Nimbus (which we affectionately call Wall-E and Eve in honor of our staff’s children!) These robots are liquid handling robots that do just as their name suggest and move liquid around. However, they also do a lot more. Keep reading to get a sneak peak!
Meet ARAC's Newest Team Member!
We can’t help it, we love people and we’re super busy in the lab, so we’ve added another new team member! Caitlin Flouton is a graduate research assistant at ARAC, with the role of laboratory coordination and management. She is pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health Microbiology and Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. Caitlin graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science. During her undergraduate education, she participated in a medical brigade to Honduras with a team of students and doctors, where they created a clinic in a rural village.
New Year, New Staff!
The ARAC superbug-fighting team is growing! We’ve recently hired a Ph.D. graduate student and three interns (current undergraduate GW students) to work on a number of research projects. From tracking how eating contaminated chicken can cause drug-resistant urinary tract infections to gauging if the human microbiome can protect people from dangerous pathogens, their research is grounded in finding real world data on and solutions to antibiotic resistance, one of the most pressing public health crises today.
We're Making Blood Broth!
To help unearth different types of bacteria, we have to create living conditions where the bacteria can thrive. Enter blood broth, a type of enrichment broth used to coax certain bacteria to multiply (i.e., grow -- we still haven’t figured out how to make them do math). Different bacteria thrive under different conditions. For example: Campylobacter likes to grow in a broth supplemented with blood while Salmonella and E. coli prefer broths supplemented with sugars and proteins.
We're Studying What Bacteria Live in Your Nose
This month, we’re all about our research on the nasal microbiome! ARAC researchers are studying bacteria living in our noses with the goal of finding new strategies to protect people from dangerous Staph (Staphyloccocus aureus) infections. Staph (S. aureus) is a common inhabitant of the human nose and people who are carriers are at increased risk of developing life-threatening infections caused by Staph.
Hunting for Bacteria in Our Lab
We’ve spent much of the 2017 summer preparing for a big project. In short, over the next three years, we are measuring changes in three key bacteria (E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter) on retail chicken meat sold in California and comparing those to the bacteria infecting people. Keep reading to learn more about this process.
Genome Sequencing for Dummies
Genome sequencing gives us even more detail to track important trends with particular bacteria of interest. Using this information, we hope to figure out new ways to stop superbugs from spreading and causing disease.
Meet ARAC's Interns
It’s been a busy summer here in the lab, and thanks to our two interns it has flown by! Hannah and Grace are GWU undergraduate students who took Dr. Price’s class last semester and decided they wanted first-hand experience working in his lab to learn more about antibiotic resistance. They have been taught dozens of lab techniques that are helping ARAC researchers on a number of research projects and experiments.
Meet the ARAC Superbug-Fighting Team
Often found peering at petri dishes in our state-of-the-art lab, the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center’s research team is leading the way on several groundbreaking studies. From tracking how eating contaminated chicken can cause drug-resistant urinary tract infections to gauging if the human microbiome can protect people from dangerous pathogens, their research is grounded in finding real world data on and solutions to antibiotic resistance, one of the most pressing public health crises today.