Microbiologist awarded $300K to study foodborne pathogens in meats - The University of Tulsa
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Microbiologist awarded $300K to study foodborne pathogens in meats

University of Tulsa faculty member Mohamed K. Fakhr has been awarded a two-year, $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study foodborne pathogens in meat and poultry products.

Professor Fakhr (right) with students in the lab

Fakhr, associate professor of molecular microbiology in the Department of Biological Science, will use the grant to develop, optimize, and evaluate an advanced sequencing assay for the rapid detection of Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria, and STEC in retail meats using the pocket-sized Oxford Nanopore technology platform.

“We believe that this is possibly the best solution for detecting microbes in the field due to the reduced times needed for assays, lower costs, and the convenient data analysis platform adapted for this portable device,” he said. “This newly developed sequence-based method will accurately and simultaneously identify multiple foodborne pathogens in meat samples in a single sequencing run, which will shorten the length of time needed for detection.”

In the United States, approximately 9.4 million cases of foodborne illnesses occur annually.

The grant will allow Fakhr and his team to detect multiple pathogens in food products simultaneously without the need for further confirmation by culturing, biotyping, or serotyping.

In addition to Fakhr, the project grant will allow for one postdoctoral research associate and one master’s student to be mentored and trained.