Univ. of Maryland awarded $10.7M grant to study STDs

The University of Maryland School of Dentistry and School of Medicine jointly announced that they have received a five-year $10.7 million grant award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health to study the causes, prevention, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The grant, which renews a previous $12 million five-year NIAID-funded research program, represents a new direction for the research by studying chlamydial and gonorrheal diseases as the outcome of complex interactions between the host genetics, the urogenital polymicrobial microbiome, and the pathogen's unique genetics, according to the university.

By applying modern "omics" technology, the study aims at identifying novel molecular biomarkers of susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), ensuing disease severity, and conversely protection from STIs and STDs. Biomarkers can be measured in the body (or its products) as a means to predict and potentially influence pathways related to disease. They may reveal mechanisms of infection or disease that can be exploited as therapeutic or diagnostic target.

The grant highlights the "ever-growing, mutually beneficial, cooperative relationship" between the School of Medicine and the School of Dentistry on multiple interdisciplinary research fronts, stated Mark Reynolds, DDS, PhD, a professor and recently named dean of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, in a press release. "Our school is committed to the concept of global health, and this project on sexually transmitted infections, which are particularly relevant to oral health, is an important focus of our research activities and an essential component of the education portfolio of the modern oral health practitioner."

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