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Debra Bessen, Ph.D., Receives $2.9 Million NIH Grant for Preventing Strep A Infection

The Five-Year Award Will Support Dr. Bessen’s Research To Develop A Vaccine To Prevent Group A Streptococci

January 30, 2023
Debra Bessen, Ph.D., professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology
Debra Bessen, Ph.D.

 “While Strep A bacterial infections are typically mild, such as strep throat, they can turn deadly,” said Dr. Bessen. “Most school-aged children get numerous Strep A infections, but immunity gradually builds so that by the time they reach adulthood, Strep A infections are rare. This grant will support research to identify signatures in the immune response in children both before and after Strep A infections that may help define human serum correlates of protection, a key measure for effectiveness in vaccine clinical trials. Those antibodies that are predicted to protect against Strep A infection will then be experimentally validated using animal models for disease.”

This research builds on Dr. Bessen’s previous NIH-supported research into the molecular basis for Strep A skin and throat infections, antibiotic resistance in Strep A and the unique properties of strains that trigger rheumatic fever.