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Microbiology in the News

Wilhelm Awarded NSF Grant for Giant Virus Research

Wilhelm Awarded NSF Grant for Giant Virus Research

Steven Wilhelm, the Kenneth and Blaire Mossman Professor of Microbiology, received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct research on using genetic tools to study giant viruses. The grant comes as part of the NSF’s Enabling Discovering through Genomic Tools (EDGE) program.

The EDGE program allows biologists to develop genomic tools to better understand and study the genetics of an organism’s physical and functional characteristics.

Giant viruses are a recent discovery in the field of microbiology, with hundreds of new genes previously unknown to science. The giant viruses have collected genes from all across biology, creating a kind of genomic mosaic. Despite a wealth of information provided by the genes, it is difficult for researchers to study the genes’ functions or purpose without genetic tools.

The goal of Wilhelm’s research is to develop genetic tools to be used in a model giant virus system, the Aureococcus anophagefferens virus. Once established, these tools can be used in other giant virus research.

Wilhelm’s partners on the project are Todd Reynolds and Tim Sparer, associate professors in the Department of Microbiology.

The grant begins October 1, 2019, and ends September 30, 2022.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2019, its budget is $8.1 billion. NSF funds research in all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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