Postdoctoral researcher Hanh N. Lam receives NIH K99

August 26, 2019

Lam Lab Work
Lam at work in the laboratory.
Hanh N. Lam, a postdoctoral researcher in the Auerbuch Stone lab, has recently been awarded a K99/R00 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, entitled “COMBINATORIAL APPROACH TO DEVELOP NOVEL PRE-THERAPEUTIC AGENTS TARGETING VIRULENCE FACTORS ESSENTIAL TO CLINICALLY RELEVANT PATHOGENS”. The K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award grant mechanism is geared toward helping scientists begin independent research earlier in their careers.

The goal of Dr. Lam’s research is to use a combination of experimental and bioinformatic approaches to develop pathogen-specific therapeutics to combat the top priority pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Every year in the U.S, antibiotic resistant bacteria cause over $20 billion in direct health care costs, with additional lost productivity valued at $35 billion. More than two million illnesses from antibiotic-resistant infections occur every year in the U.S, resulting in at least 23,000 deaths. Eight percent of all healthcare-associated infections are caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, with as much as 13% of all Pseudomonas strains resistant to multiple classes of antibiotics. Alarmingly, several classes of antibiotics are no longer curative for this important nosocomial pathogen.

Traditional antibiotics work by targeting bacterial structures found in both commensal bacteria and pathogens, resulting in collateral damage to the healthy microorganism community in our body and increasing the frequency of antibiotic resistance development. One way to address the current crisis of rising antibiotic resistance is to develop novel, targeted strategies to fight pathogenic bacteria. Together with a large team of collaborators, Dr. Lam aims to identify and develop chemical compounds that target an important virulence-associated structure, called the type III secretion system, used only by pathogens such as Pseudomonas.

The K99 phase of the award will support Dr. Lam in this research in the Auerbuch Stone lab at UCSC, while the R00 phase will support her once she transitions to a tenure-track assistant professor position.