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Arkansas School Gets $11M for Infectious Disease Research

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agency is awarding the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences an $11 million federal grant for research on infectious diseases.

The grant is from an arm of the National Institutes of Health, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. It’s the second grant for a program that helps research on pathogens, bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms.

Mark Smeltzer, a professor in the microbiology and immunology department as well as the orthopaedics department, received a grant of $10 million five years ago that helped create the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence and supported projects on viruses and malaria.

Smeltzer said the work comes at a crucial time when humans are finding new pathogens and antibiotic resistant bacteria.

“Yes, we need new antibiotics, but you are going to get resistance to them, which in my mind means we need new approaches — global approaches that take into account the human aspect and the host response,” Smeltzer said. “We have to be prepared for these things.”

Karl Boehme was one of the university’s junior faculty members in 2012 who received part of the grant for his project studying the reovirus. He is now an assistant professor in the microbiology and immunology department.

“You’ve got to have money to do science,” he said. “It’s almost an arms race: Whoever has the best tools can do the best science, and this allowed us to at least have a little bit of a chip in the game there to. … get some new instrumentation.”

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