Virginia Tech professor receives grant to study sepsis

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — A Virginia Tech professor recently received a grant to study sepsis, which impacts 1.7 million Americans every year.

Caroline Jones, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Science was awarded a $1.85 million Maximizing Investigators Research Award grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to study the condition.

According to VT, “Sepsis occurs when the body’s immune system over responds to an infection. If the condition is not diagnosed early enough, it can lead to organ failure and death.”

VT cites the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports that 270,000 Americans die every year from sepsis, with the condition claiming the most deaths in U.S. hospitals.

“It’s like you are having this war inside your body. We want to understand how we can tune the immune cells so that they can fight infections without this huge overreaction that leads to sepsis,” Jones said.

The research will examine how cells react including determining immune cell migration and respond to sepsis.

It will help scientists take a step forward in understanding cell processes behind inflammation and sepsis.

The study builds off of Jones’ paper, published in Frontiers in Immunology with Liwu Li, a professor of biological sciences and Brittany Brobon, a graduate student in Genetics, bioinformatics, and computational biology.

The authors concluded the “decision-making process of neutrophils becomes faulty when immune cells are exposed to very low levels of inflammation,” according to VT.

The new grant allows for the involvement of the VT’s Department of Mathematics, who will contribute to analyzing and modeling large data sets.

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