A Potential Grizzly Cure To Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

While not a unique experience in the slightest my dream to travel abroad for my beyond-the-classroom experience was cut short by the pandemic. By the time the world had re-opened its doors the clock on my time as an undergraduate at UM was ticking too quickly, especially with all of the requriments I needed to complete for my Pre-med track. So, I wrote a rain check for my travel dreams and buckled down to find an experience at home that was still globally relevant. Thus I found the perfect experience right in the lab I had been conducting research in for the past 6 years.

The lab had recently been focused on the development of an antibiotic that was active against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are the nastiest bacteria we face as a global health challenge today. These bacteria are resistant to most if not all of the current antibiotics approved for use, thus if someone is infected with one it can spell disaster. While terrifying to think of a bacteria with no cure it highlights the importance of finding new ways to combat these infections. If left unchecked these bacteria could lead to brutal waves of infection or death globally, and thus are a serious challenge to global public health.

So I set to work helping the two researchers, a wife and husband research powerhouse, work on their development of this antibiotic. My primary duty during this stint was to help them analyze the results of their experiments looking for a better way to produce the antibiotic they had discovered that was effective against many severe strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Through this, I gained many new laboratory skills and learned more about the world of antibiotics and drug development, a complicated field with many varying laws and regulations both in the US and globally. I also learned more about what it takes to lead a lab research group and keep a lab on track to fulfill its research goals. It was a truly amazing experience to be involved in such a cool research project and to be so heavily involved in the research and development of a novel antibiotic.

While the setting of this research was not a new place or cultural experience for me, I still found it pretty amazing that I was able to conduct such cutting-edge research all while looking out over the beautiful mountain campus we all called home for the last 4 years. Ultimately I would be remiss if I didn’t say that living in a place where after a hard day of classes and lab work I could take a quick trip up to the mountain to ski or hike or just enjoy the beauty of Montana, was anything but the perfect place to conduct a beyond-the-classroom experience.

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