Khan awarded five-year, $1.78 million R01 grant from NIH to study pneumonia, influenza

Nadeem Khan, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) Department of Biomedical Sciences, has been awarded a five-year, $1.78 million, five-year grant by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This prestigious R01 grant will support Dr. Khan’s research into Streptococcus pneumoniae-influenza co-infections, including potential innovative treatment options for the multiple illnesses caused by the bacteria and virus, respectively.

Influenza infection in the host’s respiratory airway may lead to an increased likelihood of secondary pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria, among others. A major invasive bacteria, Streptococcus pneumonia contributes to a series of human illnesses, including strep throat, ear infection, bronchitis, pink eye and pneumonia.

“Our lab is helping to explain the complex interplay between inflammation and disease pathology in the respiratory airway,” explained Dr. Khan. “The outcome of these interactions determines many aspects of inflammation and the pathogenesis of respiratory infections and allergic diseases.”

Exploring the interaction of this bacteria and the influenza virus, Dr. Khan is looking to develop novel treatment strategies to fight influenza and influenza-associated bacterial pneumonia, which constitutes a significant disease burden in the U.S. This current project is an extension of Dr. Khan’s earlier work, most of which has been focused on respiratory infection and other lung pathologies, including allergic asthma.

“This is a great recognition of the innovative work that Dr. Khan is doing to investigate the mechanisms by which the flu virus weakens the system and interacts with other infectious diseases,” added SMHS Senior Associate Dean for Medicine & Research, Marc Basson, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A. “And it’s especially timely as we move into flu season.”

Dr. Khan’s lab is one of several at the SMHS dedicated to studying host-pathogen interactions. Led by Dr. Jyotika Sharma, the School houses a team of researchers investigating disease-causing microbes and viruses—including Francisella, Lyme disease, HIV, and Zika. Much of this research is funded by a Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (CoBRE) grant through the NIH.