October 14, 2019

Staph Infections Subject of International Visiting Scholar, Pharmacy Professor’s Research

PBA News

A Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy professor and a visiting scholar are collaborating to test potential treatments for common infections that can become serious or life threatening and resist certain antibiotics.

Dr. Tarsis Brust, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, hosted Dr. Fábio Aguiar Alves a biochemistry professor from Fluminense Federal University in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for three weeks this summer.

Brust and Alves, along with researchers from the University of California, are testing the use of antibodies and antimicrobial agents to treat Staphylococcus aureus infections, commonly called “staph” infections. Many strains have developed resistance to some antibiotics. Staph infections are caused by a different bacterium than the Group A Streptococcus that causes strep throat.

The most common staph infections occur in the skin, but bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and infect almost anywhere in the body. Bloodstream infections, for example, can occur when a catheter in a vein has remained in place for a long time. Pneumonia is a form of staph infection that occurs in the lungs. Drs. Tarsis Brust, Adwoa Nornoo, Fábio Aguiar Alves and Dean Jeff Lewis pose for a photo in the Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy. Alves was a visiting scholar from Brazil.

The researchers found that the antibodies were very effective against bloodstream infections and pneumonia, Alves said.

Alves previously served as a visiting associate professor at the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, in collaboration with Dr. Binh Diep. As an associate professor at Fluminense Federal University, Alves teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses; engages in lab training for undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students; and mentors scholars from other groups in molecular biology and DNA sequence analysis.

Alves has advised more than 40 undergraduate and graduate students, including master’s and doctoral candidates, in Brazil and the United States. Two of his students in Brazil were preparing to present their masters’ theses as he was returning from PBA.

He enjoyed his time here.

“It’s such a nice environment to work at,” Alves said. “People are very friendly.”

He said they have embodied his personal mantra: “Happiness is from the inside.”

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