Researcher Takes New Approach to Antibiotic Tolerance

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With a perfect score on his research proposal, chemical and biomolecular engineering researcher Mehmet Orman received the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Career Transition Award, meant to help initiate a successful bioengineering career as an independent research scientist. Orman will use the $250,000 prize to investigate cells that are resistant to antibiotics.

“A small fraction of cells in bacterial populations enter a dormant state. Once these cells become dormant, they intrinsically become tolerant to extraordinary levels of antibiotics,” said Orman. Conventional antibiotics function by targeting the mechanisms that enable the rapid growth of bacterial cell populations, but since the cells don’t grow while dormant, the antibiotics have little chance to work.