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Bryant Scientist Christopher Reid secures University's first independent grant from the National Science Foundation

·4 min read

SMITHFIELD, R.I., June 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Bryant University announced that the National Science Foundation Division of Chemistry has awarded Christopher Reid, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Science and Technology, a three-year, $296,275 chemical biology grant to study bacterial cell wall metabolism.

Bryant Scientist Christopher Reid secures University's first independent grant from the National Science Foundation
Bryant Scientist Christopher Reid secures University's first independent grant from the National Science Foundation

Bryant University news story here>>>

This is Bryant's first independent grant secured from the National Science Foundation (NSF), and it enables Professor Reid to develop chemical tools to study how the cell wall is disassembled to allow for growth of bacteria. The grant will provide an opportunity for undergraduate students and post-baccalaureate fellows to acquire multi-disciplinary training at the interface of chemistry and biology.

New areas of investigation

"We are excited that our undergraduate-driven research will be supported by the National Science Foundation," says Reid, who will work to accomplish two ambitious goals over the course of the three-year grant, helping to advance our understanding of cell wall remodeling into new areas of investigation. First, Reid will "investigate the differences between chemical and genetic inactivation of a protein." Second, he hopes to "validate these molecules as viable probes to study bacterial cell wall physiology that can be used by the microbiology community."

"Bryant has been working hard to establish and build programming in the areas of health and behavioral sciences and environmental science, adding to the diversity of the Bryant brand," says Kirsten Hokeness, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Science and Technology. "Securing independent funding, which is another major milestone for development in these areas, is not easy to do as a primarily undergraduate institution. I am extremely proud of Professor Reid and his team for this tremendous accomplishment."

Several Bryant University undergraduate students helped lay the foundation for the grant and will support Professor Reid to generate and analyze the data that arise from the research. "Bryant is committed to offering experiential opportunities to science students, to ensure they not only secure and reinforce their passions, but that they will be prepared for and competitive in getting to graduate programs and entry-level careers," adds Hokeness. "This grant will help us to do that, even in times where the pandemic has limited undergraduate research capabilities."

An opportunity for students

According to Professor Reid, the grant will support two undergraduate summer research fellows, fund a fellowship to a junior/senior high school student from underrepresented groups in the STEM fields, and provide resources for Bryant Honors Program students who are working on aspects of this research project.

One of the undergraduate summer research fellows, Biology major Joseph Prete '21, will carry out biophysical studies to characterize how the molecules interact with the protein target. The other fellow, Biology major Caroline Williams '22, will compare the differences that occur at a molecular level when a cell wall acting enzyme is either chemically inactivated by our molecule or is inactivated (deleted) by genetic means.

"The successful student outcomes from those who have worked under Professor Reid's guidance are tremendous," says Hokeness. "Some of [these students] have been published, others have secured patents, and all have built on their analytic skill sets."

This grant, from the Chemistry of Life Processes (CLP) Program within the National Science Foundation's Division of Chemistry, was made possible by the support of the Rhode Island IDeA Network for Excellence in Biomedical Research (RI-INBRE), which funded the preliminary study that led to the award. In addition, continued support from Bryant University administration, faculty, and staff was instrumental in the grant application process.

Provisional patent

This is not the first major research undertaking of Professor Reid and his team. After nearly a decade of research, they recently received a provisional patent for a promising antibacterial compound they've developed – one that they hope will combat antibiotic-resistant infections. Read more here: https://news.bryant.edu/building-path-improved-antibiotics.

About Science and Technology at Bryant

Bryant University's Department of Science and Technology offers study within career tracks - including pre-health, cellular and molecular biology, general biology, ecology and conservation, sustainability management and environmental health, and toxicology - that prepare students to work in their fields or graduate school.

Graduates have gone on to successful careers in science-related fields such as medicine, dentistry, public health, environmental conservation, sustainability, bio-pharma, and scientific research.

About Bryant University

For 157 years, Bryant University has been at the forefront of delivering an exceptional education that anticipates the future and prepares students to be innovative leaders of character in a changing world. Located on a contemporary campus in Smithfield, R.I., Bryant enrolls approximately 3800 undergraduate students from 38 states and 49 countries. Bryant is recognized as a leader in international education and regularly receives top rankings from U.S. News and World Report, Money, Bloomberg Businessweek, Wall Street Journal, College Factual, and Barron's. Visit www.Bryant.edu.


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