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Research Sabbatical to Explore Molecular and Functional Genomics Approaches for Foodborne Pathogen Investigations


Foodborne illness in the US accounts for 76 million cases at an annual estimated cost in excess of 6.9 billion dollars. Our interest in meat products and foodborne illness has led us to study Campylobacter and Salmonella of poultry. We have evaluated these organisms in poultry, investigated their antimicrobial susceptibility and studied virulence and pathogenesis at the molecular level. We successfully completed a whole genome sequence analysis of Salmonella enterica Senftenberg isolated from ND production turkeys. The overall goal of this proposal is to expand the expertise of the PDs research program and lab by seeking training in molecular and functional genomics of Campylobacter and Salmonella through research collaboration, mentorship and training with colleagues at Iowa State University. Through this proposal the PD will obtain training in molecular research, and functional genomics using a hands on approach. This sabbatical is timely, allowing the PD the opportunity to retool her research lab for future programs in Campylobacter and Salmonella genomics. Such research will be directed at investigations of the S. Senftenberg genome function in relation to animal husbandry, food safety and human disease. Likewise, research in Campylobacter will investigate the pathogenesis and fitness of this pathogen in various hosts. The sabbatical will allow the PD the opportunity to work with two cutting edge researchers. One expected outcome of the project is the opportunity to gain new insight and training in molecular approaches for application in studies of food safety pathogen research.

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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: The sabbatical requested offers the PD the opportunity to expand her molecular horizons and it exposes her to new techniques and opportunities which are currently limited at NDSU but are clearly the direction in which the research program of her lab is pursuing. A sabbatical at this point is timely, as it allows the PD the opportunity to bring back to NDSU new expertise on molecular analysis, bioinformatics and applied research, which will have application in the research programs of the department and college as a whole, but also has the potential for impacting our education programs. It will make the lab and its research program competitive for new research dollars in the areas of foodborne pathogens, human disease and production animals, which are areas of significant interest to agencies such as USDA, NSF and NIH. This sabbatical also offers the PD an opportunity to work in an exciting environment and develop new collaborations for future research initiatives. In conclusion, this sabbatical offers the PD (Logue) the opportunity to join an exciting research environment and avail of a wealth of experience and opportunities that are currently limited at NDSU. In pursuing this program, the PD will be able to enhance her own expertise and use the knowledge gained to enhance her current research program, thus enhancing her competitiveness for future research proposals, as well as ehancing the research status of the department and its opportuniites for training future researchers in the area of genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics. <P>

APPROACH: The primary goal of this research sabbatical is to obtain training in the application of molecular techniques and bioinformatics that will allow us to expand our molecular research program in foodborne pathogens at NDSU. Goal 1 to develop methods for plasmid and molecular analysis of Campylobacter from various hosts. Goal 2 to develop molecular approaches for whole genome, proteomic and bioinformatic analysis of S. Senftenberg using E. coli as the model pathogen. From Goal 1 several strains of Campylobacter will be investigated for sequence analysis and plasmid sequencing with a view to understanding their functionality and ecological fitness in the human and animal hosts. From Goal 2 studies in the genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics of avian pathogenic E. coli will be carried out as a model organism with the view of translating the approaches used to the analysis of our recently sequenced S. Senftenberg genome. This sabbatical provides the PD with the opportunity to learn new skills and develop expertise that will have application on a broad scale it will enhance the PDs research program and that of the home department. Rollover effects from such a venture will aid in enhancing the recruitment of high quality graduate students to the departmental programs in microbiology and molecular pathogenesis. It also allows us the opportunity to share expertise with other members of the department and to collaborate with junior faculty who may be interested in similar type research. Finally, this opportunity will open up avenues for the PD to pursue new research funds in the applied sciences in the areas of genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics of foodborne pathogens of human disease. As NDSU is a relatively small school, the university encourages opportunities for career enhancement which will contribute to the elevation of our research programs. This sabbatical is the first such sought in our department with the idea of bringing back home new expertise and knowledge.

Logue, Catherine
North Dakota State University
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