Chris Reid speaks with student in research lab.
Through a recent grant, Christopher Reid, Ph.D., will look at the development of small molecule probes to study bacterial physiology.
Reid Lab awarded $390,000 National Science Foundation grant for ongoing research
Jun 27, 2024, by Emma Bartlett

In the research lab, Christopher Reid, Ph.D., is using chemistry to solve a biological question.

The School of Health and Behavioral Sciences’ professor of Biological and Biomedical Sciences recently received a $390,000 three-year grant renewal from the U.S. National Science Foundation Division of Chemistry. This July, with support from the grant, the Reid Lab will look at the development of small molecule probes to study bacterial physiology.

Their research will expand on the Reid Lab’s development of masarimycin, an antibacterial compound that provides a vehicle for studying differences in peptidoglycan metabolism and regulation of rod- and coccoid-shaped bacteria. Reid likens the ongoing research to a toolbox: He and collaborators have one tool in the toolbox — in this case, a molecule — and will attempt to further develop molecules from other pathogenic organisms, such as Salmonella and Mycobacterium species.

The hope is that, if their research is applicable to different types of bacteria, other researchers can use these molecules in their experiments to study bacterial cell physiology. Ultimately, the work could provide new insights into the role cell wall degrading enzymes play in cell growth and division.

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“We're interested in the cell wall of bacteria, which acts kind of like a skeleton. The molecules we identify inhibit enzymes that are involved in the breakdown of that cell wall during the growth and division of a cell. We’re trying to validate these molecules as a tool that microbiologists and biologists can use to study these processes and bacteria,” says Reid. “We have some pretty cool preliminary data on a couple of our objectives for this project.”

Reid, who is hiring a research associate to help with the three-year grant, will also have undergrads assisting with experimentation. Funding will cover two paid positions during the academic year and two paid positions over the summer for the grant’s lifetime; he already has one directed study student lined up for this coming fall.

“Working in the lab gives our students a great opportunity to get research experience,” says Reid, whose past undergrad researchers have gone onto Ph.D. programs, medical school, and pharmacy school.

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Research will predominantly be based out of Bryant’s labs, but investigators will receive support from collaborators at Brown University, including Professor of Chemistry and Director of Undergraduate Studies for Chemistry Amit Basu, Ph.D., who Reid has worked with for the past 13 years.

“You get to do more science when you're collaborating,” Reid says. “By bringing different expertise together, you can conduct research that’s much more interesting and larger in scope.”

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