UND Host-Pathogen symposium focused on infectious disease, including COVID-19

The Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (CoBRE) for Host-Pathogen Interactions at the University of North Dakota held its annual Host-Pathogen CoBRE Symposium at the School of Medicine & Health Sciences last week.

The virtual symposium brought in experts from outside UND investigating microbial infectious agents and host responses to those infectious agents. Investigators from UND also presented research related to infection and immunity through oral and poster sessions. Postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and faculty spoke on topics ranging from staph and strep infections to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Over the past six months we have all been reminded of the importance of infectious disease research,” said David Bradley, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, a Principal Investigator (PI) on the CoBRE, and this year’s Symposium organizer. “This is collaborative research, like what is going on in UND’s Host-Pathogen Interactions group, that will help find answers for the current COVID-19 pandemic, and future infectious disease assaults we might see.”

The fifth annual symposium couldn’t have come at a more significant time, added Jyotika Sharma, associate professor in the SMHS Department of Biomedical Sciences and lead PI of the CoBRE.

“Kudos to Dr. David Bradley and Shannon Bupp for putting in a lot of effort to get this event organized in the face of this unprecedented situation that we are in,” she said. “As early as March 2020, we had some of our researchers shift their focus to COVID-19. As the pandemic continues, I imagine we’ll see much more research emerging from our School on this novel coronavirus.”

The event’s plenary speakers were:

  • Jane Foster, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences and member of the Brain-Body Research Institute at McMasters University (Hamilton, Ontario)
  • Nur Hasan, Ph.D., M.B.A., CEO of EzBiome, Gaithersburg, Md.; and adjunct associate professor in the University of Maryland Institute of Advanced Computer Studies (College Park, Md.)

This symposium promotes interaction among researchers in the field and provides opportunities for learning about new tools, approaches and resources to advance research in broad areas of infection and inflammation.

“Recent events have certainly reminded us that we live in a world together with other organisms, some pathogenic and some not,” added Marc Basson, M.D., M.B.A., Ph.D., senior associate dean for Medicine & Research at the School. “I’m glad that, despite the current pandemic, we are able to showcase our investigators’ creativity and efforts in helping us to understand how we live with these organisms, and what to do when that cooperative living arrangement goes awry.”