Researchers at the University of Dundee, the UK’s leading university for biological sciences research, have been awarded millions of pounds of new project funding by the Wellcome Trust.
The grants include two projects contributing to the fight against antimicrobial resistance, one of the major health problems facing the world today. The grants amount to over £2 million to researchers in the School of Life Sciences at Dundee.
Professor Tracy Palmer, Head of the Division of Molecular Microbiology, has been given a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award of £1.2million for her project examining protein secretion systems and their role in infection.
“We will be examining substrates of a Staphylococcus aureus protein secretion system, which is found in MRSA strains and is known to be involved in causing persistent infection” said Professor Palmer.
“My lab will be working with the Drug Discovery Unit at the University to develop inhibitors to act against these proteins and reduce their capability to cause infection.”
Dr Helge Dorfmueller, also based in the Division of Molecular Microbiology, has been awarded a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship, which brings a grant of over £1.1million over five years.
Dr Dorfmueller’s project will address the study of the important human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes. These bacteria cause common infections such as tonsillitis ('strep throat'). Importantly, mild infections can develop into life-threating diseases. Current antibiotics are not sufficient to eradicate all mild and severe infections.
Dr Dorfmueller said, “We will characterise the biosynthesis of a novel virulence factor. These studies will help us to identify points of vulnerability and form the foundation for future antibacterial drug development, to protect us humans from severe streptococcal infections.”
The University of Dundee is the top ranked University in the UK for biological sciences, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, the major survey of research quality in the UK.
The University is the central hub for a multi-million pound biotechnology sector in the east of Scotland, which now accounts for 16% of the local economy.