CSU research on antibacterial resistance gets $2.25 million

President Obama’s 2016 budget proposes $1.2 billion toward antibacterial resistance, which grants Colorado State University $2.25 million that will be used to research agricultural sources in order to discover methods of bacteria transfer to humans.

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“Our research is basically using relatively new techniques to better understand and characterize how microbial resistant pathogens behave in the feed system,” said Keith Belk, CSU professor for the center of meat safety and quality.

Some bacteria have genetics in their genome that result in negative side effects in other sources, Belk said.

“There is good bacteria and bad bacteria,” Belk said. “All bacteria have the ability to live in an environment to absorb change from the environment and incorporate them into their own genome.”

The research is also going to focus on educating society about how antibacterial resistance occurs and is transmitted.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most significant grand challenges to human animal and food safety,” said Alan Rudolph, CSU vice president for research.

New classes at CSU will be geared towards educating students about antibacterial resistance and the new technology in the field.

“Hopefully over time, this will benefit public health … It is a big component of what we call food security,” Belk said. “It is one of the mechanisms we are going to use to make sure we can feed nine billion people by 2050.”

Dr. Paul Morley, a CSU veterinarian and infectious disease expert, is looking at antimicrobial drug use in production animals and whether it poses a threat to human health. This is done with high frequence sequencing of DNA technology. The DNA is extracted from a variety of samples pertaining to the animal’s environment.

“We extract all the DNA from a sample,” Morley said. “We work to try to understand the bacterial community makeup as well as the presence and number and diversity of the antibacterial resistance.”

Six departments of CSU will be working on this research: clinical sciences; animal sciences; computer sciences; school of education; environmental and radiological health sciences; food science and human nutrition; microbiology immunology and pathology.


There is a component of the grant that develops an education program. There will be graduate and undergraduate curriculum as well as opportunities to reach out to K-12 education systems.

“One of our goals is to teach next generation scientists … how to use this technology to answer questions,” Belk said.

Collegian reporter Stephanie Mason can be reached news@collegian.com and on Twitter @stephersmason