Pro­fessor of Biology Slava Epstein has won a pres­ti­gious million-​​dollar grant to do some­thing sci­en­tists in the last hun­dred years have been unable to do: grow oral– dis­ease causing organ­isms in a laboratory.

Epstein is the single North­eastern Uni­ver­sity recip­ient of a National Insti­tutes of Health (NIH) Chal­lenge Grant. The NIH received more than 20,000 appli­ca­tions world­wide for 200 grants.

The grant pro­gram, cre­ated under the aus­pices of the Amer­ican Recovery and Rein­vest­ment Act of 2009, des­ig­nated $200 mil­lion to fund grants for a broad spec­trum of research areas.

Obvi­ously, this is a very big honor,” Epstein said, noting he is con­fi­dent he will suc­ceed with his objec­tive to grow organ­isms and learn enough about their behavior to better inform sci­en­tists seeking to develop new med­ica­tions and treat­ments for oral disease.

Epstein will col­lab­o­rate with Pro­fessor of Chem­istry and Chem­ical Biology Paul Vouros and Bar­nett Insti­tute prin­cipal researcher Roger Kautz, as well as Bruce Pas­teur of the Forsyth Insti­tute in Boston.

The group will seek to demys­tify how organ­isms causing oral dis­ease grow, and dis­cover why researchers have been unable to grow them in the lab­o­ra­tory, Epstein said.

By under­standing why the organ­isms didn’t grow before, we hope to apply this research to other organ­isms that will not grow in the lab,” he explained.