Research teams at the Allen School are fully funded through a variety of grants. These monies allow us the opportunity to conduct research at the Allen Center, but also across the world. Some of our most notable research projects have supported the construction of facilities and fieldwork in Tanzania and Kenya to combat the spread of rabies.
Student Research Funding Opportunities
Students associated with the Allen School also have the opportunity to apply for grants from a variety of sources. There are student-specific WSU and CVM grants, assistantships, and fellowships. These funding sources allow students to benefit from additional monies during their time in the WSU graduate program.
Epithelial intrinsic inflammasomes direct host defense against gut microbes
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health – NIH R01
Description: Lining the intestinal tract is a single layer of epithelial cells that must protect the body from invading pathogens. The proposed research explores the role of a “danger sensor” that is present in these epithelial cells, called the inflammasome, in regulating the immune response to fight against intestinal infections. Understanding how the inflammasome accomplishes this could aid in the rational design of therapeutics aimed to defend against gastrointestinal infections, or treat chronic inflammatory conditions of the gut.
Faculty lead: Dr. Leigh Knodler, PI
Project Period: 07/01/2018 – 06/30/2023
Project amount: $2,181,212 (includes direct costs)
Conducting communicable disease research in Kenya
Sponsor: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Description: This award funds multiple projects carried out in partnership with the CDC, including:
- Develop, maintain and expand multiple surveillance systems in Kenya that combine population-based and facility-based demographic, morbidity and mortality surveillance.
- Develop sustainable laboratory capacity and platforms for etiologic investigation, evaluation of novel diagnostic assays for faster and easier detection and characterization of pathogens, including point-of-care diagnostics.
- Conduct studies to assess the disease burden or frequency, risk factors, and prevention of zoonotic infections at animal-human interface (One Health).
- Conduct surveillance and research for antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
- Conduct research on the epidemiology and ecology of arboviruses and their vectors.
Faculty Involved: Dr. M. Kariuki Njenga, PI
Regulation of Yersinia pestis flea-borne transmission
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Bubonic plague, transmitted by fleas infected with the bacterium Yersinia pestis, has re-emerged as a public health problem, with potential for developing into rapid human-human transmission of pneumonic plague. The objective of this research is to identify small non-coding RNA regulatory mechanisms that define the ability of the plague bacterium to establish infection in the flea and mediate flea-borne transmission, with the goal of identifying new opportunities of blocking transmission and disease spread.
Faculty Involved: Dr. Viveka Vadyvaloo
Effectors of Brucella intracellular replication
Brucellosis, caused by the zoonotic bacterial pathogen Brucella, is a widespread disease of animals and humans inflicting significant public health burden worldwide. Brucella resides and proliferates within host cells during infection by injecting proteins that modulate cell functions to the bacterium’s advantage. This project will characterize how some of these proteins promote two key events of Brucella pathogenesis — generation of a protective intracellular niche and bacterial replication — which will advance our knowledge of the disease process.
Faculty Involved: Dr. Jean Celli
Creation of a healthcare-associated infectious disease modeling network to improve prevention research and healthcare delivery
This project creates new stochastic agent-based models of human and animal infection control to answer pressing questions in the control of antimicrobial resistant infections. The models account for and exploit stochasticity in the control of these infections, tightly coupling innovative computational techniques with clinical and veterinary data, expertise, and practice. The results will provide relevant and timely infection control advice to clinicians, decision makers, and hospital administrators.
Faculty Involved: Dr. Eric Lofgren (PI)
Co-investigators: Dr. Margaret Davis, (Allen School); Drs. Sandip Roy and Ananth Kalyanaraman (School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
Infectious Diseases and Microbial Immunology Post-doctoral Training Program
The Institute of Medicine report, “Emerging Infections: Microbial Threats to Health in the United States" highlighted the importance of the epidemiology, pathogenesis, and improved control for zoonotic infectious diseases in natural animal hosts—60% of all human pathogens are directly transmitted from or emergent from animal reservoirs.
Understanding the behavior of animal pathogens, including mechanisms of persistence, evolution of virulence and antimicrobial resistance, and genetic change underlying transmission phenotypes, is now widely recognized as critically important to addressing emerging infections. This training program specifically prepares a scientific workforce prepared to and capable of addressing critical knowledge gaps in infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance.
Faculty Involved: Dr. Guy Palmer (PI)
Other CVM and WSU faculty participants affiliated with the Allen School: Drs. Troy Bankhead, Thomas Besser, Santanu Bose, Kelly Brayton, Shira Broschat, Michael Konkel, Anthony Nicola, Susan Noh.
Identifying anthrax hotspots and associated ecological factors in Kenya
Sponsor: Department of Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)
In Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa generally, massive outbreaks of anthrax occur in certain ecological regions, primarily triggered by weather extremes. Outbreaks of this neglected disease result in significant morbidity and mortality in humans, livestock, and wildlife. The overall goal of this project is to identify anthrax hotspots and associated ecological factors predicting infection and exposure risk in Kenya, in order to inform measures to reduce the biological threat posed by persistence of this infectious pathogen and protect human and animal life.
The project involves, first, conduct of a retrospective review of animal and human disease records, followed by a serosurvey in dogs and humans in all geographical zones of the country, to create a database of known anthrax cases and current seroprevalence rates. Second, data from the Kenya Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome Indicator Survey (KAIS) and ecological analysis of active outbreak sites will be added to this database to develop a risk map. Third, ecological niche modeling on the identified high-risk areas will be carried out at distinct spatial scales in order to identify the temporal and environmental signals associated with persistence of Bacillus anthracis.