Mohamed Seleem, director of the Center for One Health Research at Virginia Tech. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

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Tech center receives grant for gonorrhea research

The Center for One Health Research at Virginia Tech has received nearly $2 million for research into gonorrhea.

Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease contracted by an estimated 100 million people each year worldwide, and, increasingly, the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium is resistant to existing antibiotics, according to a release from Virginia Tech.

Mohamed Seleem, director of the Center for One Health Research at Virginia Tech, said that even if a new effective antibiotic were found at this moment in the lab, it would likely be the late 2030s before it got on the market.

Seleem, the Tyler J. and Frances F. Young Endowed Chair in Bacteriology at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dan Flaherty, associate professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Purdue University, are the principal faculty for a $3 million grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for ongoing studies on how to repurpose existing drugs to fight Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

The Center for One Health Research’s portion of the grant is $1.9 million. The center is a collaboration between the veterinary college and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine and follows the philosophy that animal health, human health, and the environment are closely linked, encouraging professionals in these fields to collaborate to improve overall health.

By repurposing existing drugs, there is the hope of getting new drugs that can fight gonorrhea on the market much more quickly than the 15 years that often exists between lab discovery of a new antibiotic and a marketable product.

Specifically, Seleem’s group, including postdoctoral researchers Nader Abutaleb and Ahmed Elhassannyhas, found some diuretics, such as acetazolamide, are promising in the fight against gonorrhea. 

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Chuan Hong, plant pathology professor in the Virginia Tech School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, examines a plant.
Chuan Hong, plant pathology professor in the Virginia Tech School of Plant and Environmental Sciences. Courtesy of Virginia Tech

Tech-led boxwood blight group wins award from USDA

The Virginia Tech-led Boxwood Blight Insight Group (BBIG) was awarded a Partnership Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture in the Program Improvement through Global Engagement category. 

The group of researchers and collaborators from across the country, with partners around the world, was led by Chuan Hong, plant pathology professor in the Virginia Tech School of Plant and Environmental Sciences.

The group studied the emerging destructive disease of boxwood blight, which has destroyed entire crops and resulted in significant economic losses for garden centers and production facilities, as well as many historic boxwood plantings. Over the past three years, the scientists have collaborated with colleagues in Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom on the best ways to mitigate the spread of the boxwood blight.

Symptoms of blight include black, cloudy spots on leaves, which often get larger and cover the entire leaf, causing it to fall off of the plant.

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Danville CC to hold walk-in financial aid workshop

Danville Community College will hold a Walk-in Financial Aid Workshop on Wednesday, November 16 from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. in Wyatt 111 on the DCC Campus. Attendees will have the opportunity to apply for aid for the Spring ’23 and Fall ’23 semesters.

“Students who do not want to fill out the form alone or who feel intimidated by the process can walk in to our office on November 16th with their 2020 (for Spring ’23) and 2021 (for Fall ’23) tax returns and we can walk them through the process on the spot,” said Angela Turner, financial aid director, in a statement. “Since we are conducting our Financial Aid Workshop in tandem with our Walk-In Wednesday event in Student Services, those wanting to get started at DCC can come in and apply, register for classes, and get their financial aid application done all in one visit to our campus. Even those simply wanting more information about what we offer are welcome to come and gather information about the process.”

The DCC Student Services Team, as well as the TRIO EOC office, will be offering their services on a walk-in basis with no appointment required on November 16 from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., as well as on five additional Wednesdays throughout November, December, and January, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The school will also be offering walk-in services on November 30; December 7, 14, & 21; and January 4.

Enrollment for Spring ’23 classes opened on November 1 and the FAFSA for the ’23-’24 academic year became available for submission on October 1 of this year.