UNeMed recognizes Dr. Kielian as Emerging New Inventor

October 22, 2012

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Tammy Kielian, Ph.D.
At Thursday's Innovation Awards Ceremony, Tammy Kielian, Ph.D., professor in the department of pathology and microbiology, was honored with UNeMed's Emerging Inventor Award, along with a research grant of $25,000.

Dr. Kielian's research interests span the fields of neuroimmunology, infectious diseases and neuroscience with a unifying theme of innate immunity.

Below, Dr. Kielian discusses her research and experience with UNeMed.

Describe your research/invention in lay terms.

My laboratory has two major areas of research emphasis (both centered on understanding how inflammation affects host tissues):

  • Investigating ways to prevent and treat methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections by enhancing immune responses. We recently filed a patent through UNeMed to support technology to utilize a patient's own immune cells to prevent and/or treat infections associated with foreign devices, such as artificial hips and knees.
  • Elucidating inflammatory pathways that contribute to the death of neurons in the brain during Juvenile Batten Disease. We explore the therapeutic potential of various compounds to delay neuronal loss and premature death in children suffering from this disease.

How does your research contribute to science/health care?

The goal of our MRSA research program is to identify novel treatments to prevent the morbidity and economic loss typically associated with device-related infections in patients. Utilizing immune cells from the patient alleviates concerns about rejection and the establishment of bacterial resistance, a common complication with antibiotic therapies.

No treatment is currently available for children diagnosed with Juvenile Batten Disease, which is associated with a reduced life expectancy into the late-teens or early 20s. We want to identify problems early in the disease process, with the hope of early intervention to promote the survival and quality-of-life for children suffering from this fatal neurodegenerative disease.

How did UNeMed help you and what were you able to accomplish because of its support?

Matt Boehm in the UNeMed office has actively researched potential industrial partners for our inventions and was instrumental in drafting our recent patent application of our cell-based immune therapy for the prevention and treatment of bacterial device-associated infections. With assistance from Matt and the entire UNeMed staff, we continue to gather additional preclinical data to support the eventual translation of our technologies to patients.

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