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Stanford University School of Medicine

Undergraduates tackle growing threat of antibiotic resistance

chemh_news-795x530A few months ago I had the opportunity to watch some undergraduate teams pitch their start up biotech ideas to a group of Stanford scientists and investors.

The students were part of an entrepreneurship program run by chemist Chaitan Khosla, PhD, who is also director of Stanford ChEM-H. The relatively new institute seeks to bridge chemistry, engineering and medicine for human health, and as part of that Khosla envisions new training mechanisms to introduce students to this space. The entrepreneurship club was part of that training effort.

One of the teams, which included undergraduates Christian Choe, Maria Filsinger Interrante, Zachary Rosenthal and Catherynn Vuong, explored the growing threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria. A story about the work quoted Filsinger Interrante:

As soon as I started to read literature about multidrug-resistant bacteria, I decided it was a huge need area and interestingly neglected by the pharmaceutical industry. Many factors combine to make antibiotic production unappealing to manufacturers, but three of the most important ones are smaller market size, the expectation of low pricing that minimizes profits and the development of resistance.

This group was one of two teams who presented biotech startup ideas to the assembled experts (and to some less expert, including me). The team so impressed the investors that they were awarded $10,000 by ChEM-H to develop their idea.

This summer they're testing their potential therapy on bacteria in the lab, and they'll then move on to the most dangerous drug resistant strains if those initial trials are successful.

Filsinger Interrante said the experience was one of the best of her undergraduate career. And if she’s successful, many people stand to benefit from this great experience.

Previously: Could predictive software defeat drug-resistant bacteria? and Stanford ChEM-H bridges chemistry, engineering and medicine
Image of Filsinger Interrante, Choe and Rosenthal by Linda Cicero

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