NIH Funds HPU Chemistry Professors’ Research Again

Oct 13th, 2022

NIH Funds HPU Chemistry Professors’ Research Again

Pictured in the front row from left are students Brianna Viering, Halie Balogh and Owee Kirpekar. In the back from left are students Chloe Cox and Sophie Gregory, and professors Miller and Blackledge.

HIGH POINT, N.C., Oct. 13, 2022 – High Point University’s Dr. Heather Miller, associate professor of biochemistry, recently received more support from the National Institutes of Health to continue research on antibiotic resistant bacteria. Miller, the principal investigator, and her team were awarded nearly $440,000 to continue their research for three more years.

This grant is the second of its kind to be awarded to HPU. Drs. Miller and Meghan Blackledge, associate professor of chemistry, were awarded this grant in 2019, too.

“We are really excited about the continued research opportunities this NIH funding will provide,” says Miller. “These powerful experiments will deepen our knowledge in a very relevant topic in the biomedical field, while demonstrating to students a collaborative project across two institutions. It involves organic chemistry, biochemistry, molecular genetics and bioinformatics, so students can be trained in a large variety of laboratory techniques. This will lead to multiple presentations and peer-reviewed journal articles that students will co-author.”

The grant money will be used to help nine HPU undergraduate students conduct summer research and purchase new instrumentation, reagents and services for these labs. The end goal is to develop novel treatments to combat persistent and antibiotic resistant bacterial infections.

HPU Chemistry Grant 2
Kirpekar, a sophomore biochemistry major from Knoxville, Tennessee, conducts research inside Miller and Blackledge’s lab.

“Under the guidance of Dr. Miller, I have gained invaluable research experience here at HPU as a biochemistry major,” says Brianna Viering, a senior from Hewitt, New Jersey. “Having the opportunity to be part of a lab with this funding has given me the ability to explore topics learned in the classroom and apply them to real scientific work which will propel me forward in the scientific field after graduation.”

Blackledge serves as co-investigator on this grant. Miller has been working with Blackledge to learn more about a protein that regulates antibiotic resistance, infections, biofilm formation and toxin expression in MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

“We are delighted that the NIH has continued to support our research,” says Blackledge. “This award recognizes HPU’s strong commitment to undergraduate research and training in the natural sciences. We are also excited to continue our collaboration with Dr. Pollock at the University of Richmond and to illustrate the importance and value of collaborative research to our students.”