Dr. Jason Yamaki and Dr. Sherif Elshahawi have been honored with the 2024 CUSP Collaboration Award for their innovative research proposal, “Developing Drug Leads to Inhibit C. difficile Bacterial Infection.” The research aims to open more opportunities for discovering solutions in antibiotic resistance for infectious disease treatments.

The CUSP Collaboration Award is designed to foster inter-departmental collaborations within the School of Pharmacy, growing our research outputs and increasing the cross-functionality of results. The high-impact proposals bring together at least two researchers to catalyze research that addresses healthcare issues.

Clostridioides difficile, commonly known as C. difficile, is a bacterial infection that poses a serious health burden on an international scale. Primarily affecting the colon, the symptoms range from stomach cramps to life-threatening diarrhea and toxic colonic inflammation. Currently, there are limited treatment options that are compounded by antibiotic resistance, which complicates treatment management and leaves patients unable to recover quickly.

Dr. Elshahawi and Dr. Yamaki will collaborate their approach to develop new drug leads. Dr. Elshahawi, with an expertise in medicinal chemistry and biocatalysis, will synthesize peptide derivatives. Dr. Yamaki, with experience in infectious diseases pharmacotherapy, will assess the efficacy of these new therapeutic agents against C. difficile infection, providing data into their potential as treatments.

Dr. Moom Roosan and Dr. Rachita Sumbria were also awarded the 2024 CUSP Collaboration Award for their proposal, “Gene signatures of liver-brain crosstalk in Alzheimer’s disease.