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Career: Patterned Biofilm Formation By Surface Design: Linking Structure To Physiology And Genetics


<p>The objective of this Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program award is to obtain an in-depth, mechanistic understanding of bacterial adhesion to surfaces, the subsequent formation of sessile multicellular structures (known as biofilms), and the development of associated drug resistance at the genetic level. It will be achieved by using surface design methods to reduce the structural heterogeneity in biofilms, an important challenge in biofilm research. During recent studies using well-defined surfaces with chemical and topographic patterns, the PI's team obtained some critical information about biofilm formation that could not be obtained using conventional uncontrolled surfaces. Based on these results, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa will be used as representative bacterial species in this project to correlate biofilm structure with gene functions and biofilm physiology. Particularly, interactions among cell clusters and horizontal gene transfer in patterned biofilms will be investigated in three dimensions and in real time. Complementary to the research goal, the educational objective of this CAREER project is to broaden participation and to improve student retention in college engineering education through integrated educational and outreach activities. Deleterious biofilms cause serious problems such as chronic infections in humans and persistent biofouling in industrial settings. In addition to fundamental understanding of biofilm formation and horizontal gene transfer, the findings from this study will also improve the general knowledge of bacterial physiology and help develop effective methods to control bacterial biofilm formation and drug resistance. Thus, this project will have broad impacts on basic science, economy, biosecurity and health care. Beyond the scientific and technical aspects, this project will also improve engineering education by involving K12 teachers and students as well as local industry in educational and outreach activities. A website will be constructed to disseminate the outcome of research, teaching, and outreach activities from this project to a broad audience.</p>

Ren, Dacheng
Syracuse University
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