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Photo of Megan McClean and David Beebe
3/08/2021

McClean, Beebe collaborating to develop new microfluidic system for studying fungal infections

Written By: Tom Ziemer

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Invasive candidiasis is a deadly yeast infection that can spread to different parts of the body, creating a wildly graver threat than a common yeast infection.

Fungal biofilms that form around medical devices can be a common culprit, with yeast cells breaking free and spreading infection. But that dispersion from biofilms isn’t yet well understood, let alone a step that’s targeted through treatments.

Two University of Wisconsin-Madison biomedical engineering researchers will use a five-year, $3.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to create a new kind of microfluidic system that should reveal new details about the dispersal process in systemic fungal infections.

Megan McClean, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and David Beebe, the John D. MacArthur Professor and Claude Bernard Professor in biomedical engineering and the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, are collaborating on the project.

The grant builds upon previous exploratory research by PhD student Stephanie Geller in McClean’s lab, which has primarily used optogenetic systems—activating different engineered proteins with light—to study fungal cell behavior. It also leverages work by several teams of undergraduates through the Department of Biomedical Engineering’s design curriculum.


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