Quick Takes

University of Louisville wins $11.7M to study links between disease, microorganisms

By: - August 24, 2023 3:52 pm

Research by Kevin Sokoloski, left, was funded through the UofL Center of Biomedical Research Excellence in Functional Microbiomics, Inflammation and Pathogenicity. Richard Lamont, center, co-leads the project, which has received an additional grant of nearly $12 million. (Photo provided).

University of Louisville researchers hope to better understand conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and diabetes and how to best treat them through a nearly $12 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Over the next half-decade, the researchers will study connections between microorganisms like bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses and protozoans and diseases, UofL said Thursday. 

The researchers were originally awarded a grant in 2018 from the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence. This $11.7 million extends that research, which includes studying microorganisms in the mouth, GI tract and the blood-brain barrier.  

The research “could lead to life-changing therapies, treatments and more that could dramatically improve the lives of people living with numerous conditions,” Kevin Gardner, executive vice president for research and innovation, said in a statement. 

Multiple researchers will investigate: 

  • Periodontitis, a common condition which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says can include the gums pulling away from teeth. People with the condition may lose teeth or have tooths loosen. Smoking and diabetes are risk factors for periodontitis. 
  • The GI tract pathogen C. difficile, which the Mayo Clinic says can cause “life threatening damage” to the colon. 
  • The blood-brain barrier (BBB), which the Cleveland Clinic says is “a tightly locked layer of cells that defend your brain from harmful substances, germs and other things that could cause damage.” 

In 2021, 1,632 Kentuckians died from Alzheimer’s Disease, according to the CDC. Kentucky also has high rates of cancer mortality, heart disease and diabetes.   


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Sarah Ladd
Sarah Ladd

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist from West Kentucky who's covered everything from crime to higher education. She spent nearly two years on the metro breaking news desk at The Courier Journal. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since. As the Kentucky Lantern's health reporter, she focuses on mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, children's welfare, COVID-19 and more.