Ann West, the Grayce B. Kerr Centennial Chair in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Oklahoma, has received a 2021 Cottrell Fellowships Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. The $62,500 award will support postdoctoral fellow Megan Kempher’s research in West’s lab.
Cottrell Fellowships were initiated in 2020 in response to the pandemic’s impact on early career researchers. Through this fellowship, named for science innovator Frederick Gardner Cottrell, RSCA plans to help postdoctoral scientists keep their research and careers on track.
West is the director of the National Institutes of Health-funded Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in Structural Biology and the associate vice president of research development in the Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships
“This fellowship will allow Megan to keep working in my lab for another year to advance her research,” West said. “I am grateful to RCSA for providing this opportunity for young investigators who may be negatively impacted due to the pandemic.”
Kempher studies Clostridioides difficile, the leading causative agent of hospital acquired bacterial infections in the United States. When outside of a human host, C. difficile produces spores that are the major route of transmission between hosts and are highly resistant to disinfectants. Working in West’s lab, Kempher recently identified a two-component signaling system that is involved in controlling the production of spores.
“Our project aims to understand the mechanism of regulation of this system and the environmental signals involved in triggering sporulation,” Kempher said. “Improving our understanding of how sporulation occurs in this microbe will provide new targets for therapeutic development that could reduce or eliminate spore formation and transmission of this pathogen.”
More information about Cottrell Fellowships is available via the RCSA website.