International recognition for collaborative research into antibiotic resistance

By Dale Johnson Posted: December 13, 2017 1:00 p.m.

(l-r) Dr. Sunyoung Kim, Research Associate, U of R; Dr. Hiroyuki Aoki, Senior Research Associate/Mass Spectrometrist U of R; Qingzhou (Johnson) Zhang, U of R; Dr. Mohan Babu, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, U of R; Dr. Alla Gagarinova, Postdoctoral Fellow, U of S.
(l-r) Dr. Sunyoung Kim, Research Associate, U of R; Dr. Hiroyuki Aoki, Senior Research Associate/Mass Spectrometrist U of R; Qingzhou (Johnson) Zhang, U of R; Dr. Mohan Babu, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, U of R; Dr. Alla Gagarinova, Postdoctoral Fellow, U of S. Photo: U of R Photography

A researcher at the U of R, Dr. Mohan Babu, is leading an international team looking into how to understand and combat antibiotic resistance.

Now the team’s research paper has been published in a prestigious and influential journal, Nature Biotechnology.

Babu, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is the lead and senior author.

“The work is very collaborative, involving researchers from Boston University, University of Toronto, University of Saskatchewan, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of California San Diego, University of Miami, Carleton University, and J. Craig Venter Institute. Without their contribution, we would not have accomplished this work,” says Babu.

The World Health Organization says antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development.

Babu and his team are working on screening E. coli genes against thousands of compounds. They are mapping individual genes of E. coli, in order to determine the characteristics of the genes and how they function collectively in the bacterial cell. The hope is that a better understanding of bacterial genetics will help in the development of new antibiotics to combat drug resistance, and kill bacterial infections, including E. coli.

“Acquiring a more complete understanding of the physical and functional organization of membrane protein complexes in E. coli should provide new insights into processes essential to bacterial viability, thereby revealing new targets for antibiotic development,” Babu explains.

Funding for the five-year research project, which totals more than $1,500,000, comes from National Institutes of Health in the U.S., the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Publication in Nature Biotechnology means that this important research will be disseminated to biomedical researchers as a potential resource to improve public health.

More about research at the U of R:

Government of Canada invests more than $3.7 million in innovative health research