Chemistry research group earns nearly $4 million in grants
Assistant Professor William Wuest and his team were awarded two grants by the National Institutes of Health for their research on antibiotics.
Assistant Professor of Chemistry William Wuest has reason to be proud.
A team led by Wuest, a Daniel Swern Early Career Development Professor in the College of Science and Technology, recently earned two major grants from the National Institutes of Health to further their research in the field of narrow-spectrum antibiotics.
Wuest is one of 94 inaugural recipients to receive the NIH’s prestigious Early Stage Investigator Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award grant, which recognizes standout young investigators in biomedical research. The five-year, $2 million grant will support Wuest and his team’s continuing research into the specialized antibiotics.
The narrow-spectrum antibiotics Wuest and his team of students and postdoctoral researchers are researching could potentially help to develop better treatments for infections.
“Antibiotics right now operate on a broad-spectrum, meaning they kill all the bacteria,” Wuest explained. “They kill the beneficial kind you have, the ‘good guys’—such as ones which aid in digestion or oral health—as well as the bad ones that make you sick. We are working on compounds that specifically target and kill the ‘bad guys.’”
In addition to that grant, Wuest and his team also earned a second NIH grant. That five-year, $1.9 million grant will support the team’s work specifically focusing on compounds that kill S. mutans, the bacteria that causes cavities and heart disease. Bettina Buttaro, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, played an integral role in that research, Wuest said.
“Her knowledge of S. mutans and her assistance ... enabled our group to obtain NIH funding,” he said. “She also mentored approximately half of my group in her lab at the medical school, so without her, none of this would have been possible.”
Andrew Steele, a fourth-year chemistry graduate student and a member of Wuest’s team, said he learned a lot about conducting research by being involved with both grant-awarded projects from the beginning.
“One of the great things about Dr. Wuest is that he encourages ownership of the whole project, so I’m not just working in chemistry,” Steele said. “I’m involved in the biology part and all other stages as well.”
Read more about the NIH grants and Wuest’s team’s work here.