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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


Reed College biology professor Jay Mellies has received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) academic research enhancement award of $144,082 to study a virulent strain of E. coli bacteria known as EPEC. The award will go toward assisting Mellies in his research to determine how E. coli pathogens cause disease in humans.

Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) is a leading cause of infant diarrhea in developing countries. It also serves as a model for the ways other E. coli pathogens cause disease, including enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) serotype O157:H7, a leading cause of food contamination in the United States. Mellies has worked with five Reed senior thesis students over the past few years to study how EPEC causes disease on the molecular level. By studying the ways that EPEC genes are regulated within the intestine, Mellies hopes to contribute to a working model of how EPEC causes illness and how it can be controlled.

Jay Mellies holds a B.S. in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of California—Davis, and he has been a postdoctoral fellow at the Max-Planck-Institut für Biologie and at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. His articles have been published in numerous national academic journals. Mellies has been a member of the Reed faculty since 1999.

The NIH, in Bethesda, Maryland, is one of the world’s foremost medical research centers. Comprising 27 separate institutes, the NIH is one of eight health agencies of the Public Health Service, which, in turn, is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NIH’s mission is to acquire new knowledge to help prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat disease and disability.

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