Aldert Zomer awarded Marie Curie fellowship

Zomer, Aldert

Aldert Zomer from the Laboratory of Pediatric Infectious Diseases obtained a Marie Curie fellowship grant. Financial support is provided to work on the following project:

Identification of genetic determinants involved in Streptococcus pneumoniae pathogenesis

Respiratory tract infections are a leading cause of global mortality and morbidity. It has been estimated by the WHO that annually 4-5 million people die of pneumonia. Streptococcus pneumoniae, aptly named because it is the most important bacterial cause of pneumonia, is likely primarily responsible for these deaths.

Infection by S. pneumoniae is a complex process dependent on a number of essential pathways, of which members could form ideal candidates for drug design. To identify microbial genes required for pathogenesis, we plan to use an insertion knockout strategy that allows rapid identification of disrupted genes. The host lab successfully performed micro array based approaches and proof-of-concept next generation sequencing methodologies to determine which genes are essential under a number of relevant in vitro and in vivo conditions. To identify shared essential pathways we will use statistical analysis, pathway analysis, network reconstruction and functional category enrichment methods on existing data and data generated within this project to determine the most ideal candidates for drug design. These key genes do not necessarily have to be detected initially in all screenings because of the noise inherent to the techniques used or limited survival of the mutant library.

  Genes coding for products with the appropriate characteristics will be subsequently tested in an animal model. Vaccines and novel drugs generated from this approach will provide alternatives to continue treatment and prevention of life-threatening chronic and acute bacterial infectious diseases.

  The Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowships for Career Development aims at supporting researchers in getting an independent position and acquiring new skills by moving to a lab within the EU.

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