Daria Van Tyne, PhD, has been awarded funding in the amount of $25,000 for a one-year grant by the Competitive
Medical Research Fund (CMRF) entitled “Dynamics of Mobile Genetic Element Sharing among Multidrug-Resistant Bacterial Pathogens in a Hospital Setting”. The UPMC Health System established the CMRF in 1985 with the intent of providing modest research support across the broad range of biomedical sciences. The intent of the CMRF program is to provide funds for junior, independent scientists to develop the preliminary data and refinement of procedures and hypotheses that will enable submission of highly competitive applications to national funding sources.

The increasing spread of drug-resistant and highly virulent hospital-adapted bacterial pathogens poses a serious threat to public health infrastructure around the world, because they greatly increase morbidity, mortality and healthcare expenses. Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) of mobile genetic elements (MGEs) amplifies this problem, as genes conferring drug resistance, virulence, and environmental persistence can rapidly move within and between different bacterial strains and species in hospital settings. The goal of this research is to investigate the sharing of MGEs between multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacterial pathogens circulating within a hospital setting. These studies will expand our understanding of how bacteria share important functionalities, such as antibiotic resistance and virulence-enabling genes, with each other in the hospital setting, and how MGEs can move along with and independently from the bacteria that carry them. The results of this project will directly inform infection control practices, and will help limit the spread of multidrug-resistant organisms at UPMC