Boston, Mass. — Dr. Lawrence Mulcahy of North­eastern University’s Antimi­cro­bial Dis­covery Center and Depart­ment of Biology, has received an esteemed Post­doc­toral Fel­low­ship Award from the Cystic Fibrosis Foun­da­tion, the leading orga­ni­za­tion in the United States devoted to com­bating Cystic Fibrosis. The award will sup­port Mulcahy’s work on mul­tidrug tol­er­ance of pathogen, Pseudomonas aerug­i­nosa.

The role that per­sis­ters play in main­taining chronic bac­te­rial infec­tions that develop in the lungs of Cystic Fibrosis patients is cur­rently unknown,” said Mulcahy, Post­doc­toral Research Asso­ciate at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Antimi­cro­bial Dis­covery Center and Depart­ment of Biology at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. “Per­sis­ters are dor­mant drug tol­erant, not resis­tant, vari­ants of the wild-​​type pop­u­la­tion. We have hypoth­e­sized that per­sis­ters are impor­tant in clin­ical infec­tions, but to date have not done exper­i­ments to test this hypothesis.The funding from the Cystic Fibrosis Foun­da­tion will allow me to pursue this ques­tion for the first time.”

A major com­pli­ca­tion of Cystic Fibrosis is the acqui­si­tion of a chronic infec­tion of the lungs by the oppor­tunistic pathogen, P. aerug­i­nosa. While antibi­otic resis­tance may not present a problem during the ini­tial stages of antibac­te­rial therapy, most CF patients suc­cumb to this pathogen as antibi­otic therapy fails to erad­i­cate P. aerug­i­nosa completely.

Col­lab­o­rating closely with Dr. Stephen Lory from the Depart­ment of Mol­e­c­ular Genetics and Micro­bi­ology at Har­vard Med­ical School and Dr. Jane L. Burns of the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ington, Seattle and Seattle Children’s Hos­pital, Mulcahy will use the award to study how P. aerug­i­nosa escapes erad­i­ca­tion initially.

Cystic Fibrosis patients invari­ably acquire this pathogen and even­tu­ally die from the infec­tion which is untreat­able with cur­rent ther­a­peu­tics. “The recal­ci­trance of the pathogen has been puz­zling, since antibi­otics can effec­tively sup­press the growth of clin­ical iso­late in vitro,” explained Mulcahy. “I plan to test the hypoth­esis that recal­ci­trance is due to the pro­duc­tion of dor­mant per­sister cells by the pathogen, which sur­vive antibi­otic treat­ment, and then repop­u­late the infection.”

Founded in 1955, the Cystic Fibrosis Foun­da­tion is a nonprofit,donor-supported orga­ni­za­tion with the mis­sion to assure the devel­op­ment of the means to cure and con­trol cystic fibrosis and to improve the quality of life for those with the disease.

Mulcahy will con­duct his work at the Antimi­cro­bial Dis­covery Center at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity under the men­tor­ship of Dr. Kim Lewis, Pro­fessor of Biology and Director of the Center.

For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact Samantha Fodrowski at 617–373-5427 or at s.​fodrowski@​neu.​edu.

About North­eastern

Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world. The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divi­sions. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu.