NOVEMBER 17, 2004

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OU professor awarded $2.1 million grant for E. coli research

Tyrrell Conway, professor of microbiology and director of the University of Oklahoma Microarray Core Facility, has been awarded a five-year grant totaling $2.1 million by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Conway, who also is director of the Oklahoma Bioinformatics Network and co-director of the OU Advanced Center for Genome Technology, will use the funding to conduct research on “Growth and Colonization of the Intestine by E. coli.”

According to the NIH project information, the research will focus on how E. coli colonizes mammalian hosts and the possibility that specific cellular processes, such as nutrient acquisition and metabolism, affect the ability of certain strains of E. coli to grow in the intestine. The results of previous and ongoing research indicate that different strands of E. coli compete in the intestine with other bacteria for nutrients. If the hypotheses are proved by the research, the result could be a higher level of understanding of human intestinal health and the opportunity in the future to build a nutritional framework to defend against intestinal infections.

Conway earned bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in microbiology and served as a post-doctoral research associate at Oklahoma State University. He was a faculty research assistant at the University of Florida before spending six years at the University of Nebraska, where he served as an associate professor of microbiology and in 1992-93 as the acting associate director of the university’s Center for Biotechnology. He also spent five years as an associate professor of microbiology at Ohio State University before joining OU’s College of Arts and Sciences Department of Botany and Microbiology in 1999.

Conway has 62 journal articles to his credit as well as manuscripts, book chapters and reviews. In the past four years, he has participated in projects with grant funds that, including the current grant, extend through 2009 and total more than $23 million. He has served on editorial and review boards, including the Journal of Bacteriology, as a panelist and/or reviewer of grant proposals for the NIH, U.S. Department of Education, National Science Foundation and USDA. He also has two patents to his credit, including Patent No. 5,000,000, which was awarded on the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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