The Brillance of Ingenuity

High School Students Help Discover New Antibiotics

"High school students present the results of their antibiotic discovery research"

Huntsville, Ala. — Scientists from CFD Research partnered with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) during a two-week educational program in Maryland designed to teach, inspire and involve high school students in the company’s own antibiotic discovery process and transition the initiative into Huntsville-area high schools.

 CFD Research and the DTRA will use the student’s research to advance and develop new antibiotics for combatting biological warfare agents and so-called “Super Bugs” that have become resistant to most modern antibiotics.

 This program allows students to participate actively in scientific research, providing them with hands on experience conducting research and encouraging them to continue their academic pursuits in a STEM related discipline.

 “The program is designed to inspire a future generation of scientists by combining environmental microbiome sample collection, synthetic biology, and a sense of accomplishment that comes from meaningful contribution to research around a critical problem facing the world today,” CFD Senior Research Scientist AJ Singhal said.

 Students used metagenomic techniques to isolate microbes and long environmental DNA from local rivers. Using synthetic biology, this DNA was altered and inserted into an engineered bacterium creating a “library” that will be utilized by CFD Research to discover new antibiotics.  The results from this project were exceptional, with the students creating a massive drug discovery library of more than 150,000 clones from Maryland waterways with the potential to produce dozens of antibiotic candidates.

 CFD Research Scientist, Kyle H. Lewter, taught the high school students in Maryland for two weeks. “Students were very excited knowing their efforts were going towards active antibiotic discovery research, which could lead to real medical breakthroughs,” Lewter said. “Their eagerness to follow and understand downstream results was encouraging and opens the door for expansion of the initiative into our local high schools in Huntsville.”

 About CFD Research: CFD Research is an established R&D company, one of the oldest and largest associate companies on the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology Campus. CFD Research was founded in 1987 in Huntsville, with the goal of developing and commercializing new technologies for Aerospace, Biomedical, Energy and Materials markets. To learn more about CFD Research visit:   

"JSTI students and mentor, Kyle Lewter, demonstrating the use of micropipettes to perform synthetic biology reactions."
"JSTI students and mentor, Kyle Lewter, demonstrating the use of micropipettes to perform synthetic biology reactions."

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