EWU professors win grant for microbe research

Hard work pays off as biology professors receive grant for research


The Easterner

By Marco Vargas, Reporter

EWU biology professor Javier Ochoa-Reparaz and his team of four professors will reportedly receive $415,000 from the National Institute of Health for their groundbreaking research on the effects of microbes within the human gut, which is what Ochoa-Reparaz has been working on for a few years. Ochoa-Reparaz, who submitted the grant to the NIH, is the principle investigator of his team of professors from EWU and WSU.

“We are the primary receivers of the grant,” Ochoa-Reparaz said. “Most of the money comes to Eastern. Collaborators at WSU will help us analyze some of the data that we will be collecting. They will also collect some data from samples that we provide from the experiment.”

Ochoa-Reparaz said that receiving the money from the NIH is important for EWU laboratories.

“It means a lot,” Ochoa-Reparaz said. “Unfortunately, it is hard for us to compete with nationwide laboratories in similar work that we do. In my opinion, it is very important for Eastern to have this grant not only for the PIs, but also for undergrad and grad students because they get access to research that mostly is restricted to bigger universities or medical schools. This grant is designed to train undergrad students on this type of research. We are required to work with undergrad students for every experiment that we do in this project.”

Ochoa-Reparaz said that he and his team have a goal to use some of the money for collaboration on the capacity of doing research.

“One of the mechanisms that are used to continue to do research is collaboration with other labs or universities,” Ochoa-Reparaz said. “My goal is to continue (collaborations) with other national institutes to expand our research capacity. Perhaps research that we cannot do at Eastern because we don’t have the equipment or knowledge. This grant allows you to expose a research in conferences, where you can meet people like researchers.”

According to Ochoa-Reparaz, the grant will also be beneficial for training undergrad students in basic research.

“We can teach using PowerPoint presentations or using research as a tool,” Ochoa-Reparaz said. “This grant is important for that. The main goal of this grant is to train our students in the research field.”