Seed grant will enable single-cell RNA sequencing to understand how coronaviruses influence the host response

The 2023 Doherty Institute Collaborative Seed Grants, an internal grant scheme supporting collaboration across lab groups at the Doherty Institute, have been awarded to two research projects looking into coronaviruses and their differing impact in humans and into modelling of golden staph antibiotic treatment outcomes.

The recipients, University of Melbourne’s Dr Stefano Giulieri, a Clinician-Researcher at the Doherty Institute and University of Melbourne’s Dr Matthew Gartner, a Research Officer at the Doherty Institute, received $20,000 each.

Dr Giulieri’s work focuses on applying machine learning to predictive modelling for antibiotic treatment response in sepsis due to Staphylococcus aureus — a bacterium commonly found on the skin and nasal passages, responsible for a wide range of human infections.

“I’m very pleased to receive this year’s Doherty Collaborative Seed Grant. Through the collaboration of the Howden, Stinear and Tong research groups, our project will combine a unique resource, the collection of Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream isolates from the international SNAP trial, with advanced bacterial statistical genomics and high-capacity phenotypic testing to develop an innovative prediction model for the use of antibiotics in golden staph infections,” said Dr Giulieri.

Dr Gartner’s research explores why coronaviruses responsible for common colds and SARS-CoV-2 result in varying degrees of ailment despite using the same host receptor.

“Thanks to the Doherty Institute Collaborative Grant, we will use single-cell RNA sequencing (a powerful and high-throughput method) to understand how these coronaviruses influence the host response in various parts of the human respiratory tract and why specific coronaviruses lead to severe respiratory illnesses in humans,” said Dr Gartner.

The grant scheme has been running since 2016 and is offered annually to two researchers following a competitive selection process and prioritising projects that explore an essential question in line with the vision of the Institute.

Speaking at the Doherty Institute annual symposium where the announcement was made, University of Melbourne’s Professor Paul Gorry, Deputy Director at the Doherty Institute, said the grant was a great way to encourage collaborative research.

“Congratulations to this year’s recipients. I am positive that this funding will boost their ongoing excellent research work,” Professor Gorry said.

“The bolder vision is to support the development of larger scale collaborative projects that range from laboratory-based discovery research to translational clinical research.”

SourceDoherty Institute

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