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Beth Sorensen
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Reed biology professor receives $227,500 for E. coli research

NIH grant brings Jay Mellies' research dollar total to $625,000 over five-year period

Portland, OR (October 20, 2004) - The National Institute of Health (NIH) has awarded a $227,500 Academic Research Enhancement Award to Jay Mellies, associate professor of biology at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, for his continuing research on the E. coli strain known as Enteropathogenic Escheriachia coli (EPEC), responsible for an estimated     1 million infant diarrheal deaths in the developing world each year.

Mellies' research team will continue studying how the master regulator protein LER controls the disease process on the molecular level. The long-term goal of the laboratory is to use this knowledge to develop effective therapeutics for the treatment of this and related infections.

In the United States, EHEC, a pathogen related to EPEC, is of particular concern in food safety and public health because it causes many outbreaks of bloody diarrhea due to contaminated meat products, produce, and water. Mellies' research on EPEC may provide insight into disease caused by not only EHEC, but also Shigella and Salmonella species that cause significant disease annually.

Over the past three years, Mellies has received other significant funding for his research, including $230,323 from the Defense Advanced Research Program Agency in 2003 to develop a small animal model of EPEC infection using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans , a seed grant from the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon, and a grant of $143,667, also from the NIH in 2001.

The resources provided by these grants have allowed students to do top notch research at a small liberal arts college. The intimate laboratory setting combined with state of the art equipment puts students in a highly competitive position for admission to graduate and medical schools, and for employment in the biotechnology sector.

Jay Mellies

At Reed since 1999, Mellies received his B.A. in biochemistry from the University of California at Davis in 1986. He earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology from Davis in 1994. From 1994 to 1997, Mellies was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for Infectious Biology in Tübingen, Germany, then a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Maryland School of Medicine from 1997 to 1999.   More background information on Mellies and his work is available at .

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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 per capita number of undergraduates that go on to receive Ph.D.s in the United States and second in the number of Rhodes Scholars from a liberal arts college (31 since 1915).