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Dr. J. William Costerton joins CGS as Director of Biofilm Research

Professor Bill Costerton, the world renowned developer of the biofilm paradigm (Scientific American 1978), has joined the WPAHS system with joint appointments as Director, Microbial Research, Department of Orthopaedics, Allegheny General Hospital, and Director, Biofilm Research, Center for Genomic Sciences, Allegheny-Singer Research Institute. Dr. Costerton is a Fellow of the Canadian Royal Society, and the recipient of numerous international awards in microbiology and teaching including ASM's Procter and Gamble Award in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Prior to Dr. Costerton's joining WPAHS, he was the Director of Biofilm Research at the University of Southern California from 2004-2008, and Center Director of the Center for Biofilm Engineering at Montana State University from 1992-2004 where he ran a highly successful NSF-sponsored engineering institute. Dr. Costerton is one of ISI's most highly cited authors and has over 600 peer-reviewed publications. An extremely popular speaker, Dr. Costerton gives dozen's of keynote addresses around the world every year on topics ranging from medical microbiology, to microbial ecology, to industrial microbiology and bioremediation.


New Funding Source at CGS

Dr. Ehrlich heads a team of CGS researchers including Drs. Hu and Hiller, and Ms. Bennett that are working on a DARPA-funded project to try to quantitate bacterial evolutionary rates in vivo during the infectious process.


New Research Initiatives at CGS

Orthopedic Biofilm Infections: Dr. J. William Costerton is heading a greatly expanded collaboration between the Department of Orthopedics and the Center for Genomic Sciences to study antibacterial biofilm strategies for implantable orthopaedic devices including arthroplasties and bone fixation devices. Joining Dr. Costerton are Drs. Conti, Mateo, Sotereanos, Altman, and Altman from Orthopedics; and Drs. Kathju, Stoodley, Ehrlich and Post from CGS. This projects includes evaluation of the new Ibis/Abbott T-5000 Universal Biosensor Technology to provide rapid, specific, and quantitative information regarding the infectious process. To aid in this endeavor, CGS has hired Ms. Rachael Melton-Kreft from Ibis where she served as the chief developmental technologist for all of the microbial assays that are run on the T-5000.

Vaginal Microbiome Studies: Drs. Ehrlich, Ahmed, Hu, Hiller, and Costerton have begun a collaboration with the vaginal microbiology group at Magee and Women's Hospital headed by Dr. Sharon Hillier to characterize the vaginal and uterine microbiomes in health and disease. To initiate this collaboration, the Magee team identified a dozen phenotypically characterized strains of Gardnerella vaginalis that represented as broad a cross section of this important bacterial species as possible and the CGS has begun sequencing these strains using the newest 454 Titanium technology. Preliminary results from the first 4 sequenced strain demonstrate a huge improvement in assembly for the Titanium platform compared to the FLX platform.  An NIH grant headed by Dr. Hillier has been submitted to support this work.

Aqueous-Tar Microbiome Studies: CGS Scientists led by Executive Director, Dr. Garth Ehrlich, have established a second environmental microbiology initiative. This new collaborative project includes Drs. Baum and Webster of the Oak Crest and House Ear Institutes, respectively, both in Los Angeles, CA. The primary goal of this project is to fully characterize the unique microbiology of the Sisar Creek Tar microbiome on Sulphur Mountain, CA with the idea of identifying unique organisms and metabolic pathways from this natural petroleum seep for use in detoxifying petroleum spills. An NSF grant headed by Dr. Baum has been submitted to pursue this work.


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