|Dr. Guolong Zhang|
Glenn Zhang, Ph.D.
Routine use of antibiotics for disease prevention in the livestock industry has been criticized as a major driving force for emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Although various forms of alternatives to antibiotics have been explored, none is able to match the performance of antibiotics. We recently discovered a group of dietary compounds with a strong capacity to augment host innate immunity and disease resistance (PLoS One 2011; 6: e27225; PLoS One 2012; 7: e49558). Unlike many immune boosters that provoke excessive inflammatory response, these compounds specifically induce host defense peptide synthesis with a minimum impact on inflammation. Therefore, they represent a truly novel, first-of-a-kind class of feed additives with strong potential for further development as antibiotic alternatives in food animal production. The summer students will get involved to extend our exciting discoveries by devising a novel high-throughput screening system to search for additional compounds with more potent HDP-inducing activities and evaluate their efficacy in disease control and prevention in farm animals. Ample opportunities will exist for the students to be exposed to a variety of techniques in molecular and cell biology, bacteriology, immunology, and genomics as well as animal handling.