Clemson University has received a nearly $11 million grant that will allow scientists to conduct new research on organisms that cause infectious tropical diseases.
Lead researchers Kerry Smith and Lesly Temesvari say the work is needed as climate and population changes expand the range of tropical diseases, as was demonstrated with the recent spread of Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks. The pathogens to be studied at Clemson’s new “Eukaryotic Pathogens Innovation Center” (EPIC) include amoebic dysentery, African sleeping sickness and fungal meningitis.
“With climate changes and the ease of travel, there’s a possibility that diseases could gain a foothold in the US, as well,” Temesvari said.
The university said the five-year, $10.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will provide funds for five faculty members, 15 research technicians and graduate students, along with administrative personnel. Temesvari hoped the students who are involved will take what they learn to apply for their own research to further study pathogens.
A portion of the grant will be used to create a network of external mentors to provide guidance and expertise to junior scientists. The funds will also help support efforts in Clemson’s Light Imaging Facility and Institute of Translational Genomics.