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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


Reed College biology professor Jay Mellies has received $230,323 from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to study a virulent strain of E. coli bacteria known as EPEC. The award will assist Mellies in his research determining how E. coli pathogens cause disease in humans.

EPEC, a leading cause of infant diarrhea in developing countries, can also serve as a model for ways other E. coli pathogens cause disease, such as enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), a foremost cause of food contamination in the United States. Mellies has worked with numerous Reed senior thesis students over the past few years, through a grant from the National Institutes of Health, studying how EPEC genes are regulated on the molecular level within the intestine. The current grant will continue his research, supporting six undergraduate students and a senior research associate as they develop the nematode C. elegans as a model infection system. Through his years of research Mellies hopes to contribute to the understanding 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. He has been a member of the Reed faculty since 1999.

Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, is an undergraduate institution of the liberal arts and sciences dedicated to sustaining the highest intellectual standards in the country. With an enrollment of about 1,360 students, Reed ranks third in the undergraduate origins of Ph.D.s in the United States and second in the number of Rhodes scholars from a liberal arts college (31 since 1915).

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