(Feb. 9, 2012) -- A group of researchers in the UTSA South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (STCEID) was granted a United States patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its work on Francisella tularensis (F. tularensis), the bacterium that causes the human disease tularemia (or rabbit fever). While natural cases of tularemia are relatively rare, F. tularensis can be fatal when acquired through the lungs, and thus this organism is considered a potential biothreat agent.
UTSA researchers James Chambers, professor of biochemistry; Jieh-Juen Yu, research assistant professor; Neal Guentzel, professor of microbiology; Bernard Arulanandam, Jane and Roland Blumberg Professor in Biology and associate dean of research for scientific innovation; and Karl Klose, professor of microbiology and STCEID director; have studied F. tularensis for years. The team led by Arulanandam and Chambers found that Francisella degrades alkaline phosphatase (AP) during infection, and the distinctive degradation can be used as a diagnostic tool to reveal the presence of the bacteria.
"The South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases is focused on developing new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines to reduce the impact of infectious organisms on the human population," said Klose. "Tularemia is a difficult disease to diagnose, due to its infrequent appearance in the clinical setting, yet rapid diagnosis may be critical for effective intervention during a bioterrorist event. This patent may lead to better diagnostics and possibly even novel therapeutics for tularemia."
In 2010, STCEID researchers also were awarded a patent for developing a tularemia vaccine composed of a live crippled Francisella bacterium unable to cause disease but able to induce protection against infection.
The STCEID focuses on research in molecular microbiology, immunology, medical mycology, virology, microbial genomics, vaccine development and biodefense, and studies the organisms that cause Valley Fever, Lyme disease, anthrax, cholera and other infectious diseases. The center also provides hands-on training to high school, undergraduate and graduate students who intend to pursue careers in science and technology.
Working with the Department of Biology in the UTSA College of Sciences, center faculty have established an undergraduate academic track in microbiology, a master's program in biology and biotechnology, and a Ph.D. program in cell and molecular biology. In 2011, the STCEID established a Center of Excellence in Infection Genomics with funding from the Department of Defense.
"The push to commercialize UTSA intellectual property for the benefit of the general public is one of the things that will help UTSA become a Tier One research institution," said Arulanandam. "Those discoveries lead to commercial licenses, income that will give our researchers and others across the university the opportunity to work on human health challenges facing today's society."
The annual Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Venture Competition and Exposition will be held on the Main Campus on Dec. 1. Twenty-eight teams from across the university will exhibit their project; six teams will compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding to launch their new venture / company. More than 650 students have participated in launching new technology ventures.
Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE 2.102), Main Campus
This concert features 50 community children performing music in the UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert. The children, led by UTSA music students studying to be music teachers, will join together in playing the Theme from Batman at their concert. The Batman of San Antonio, a local celebrity figure, will make an appearance at the concert. This event is free.
Buena Vista Theatre, Downtown Campus
Graduate student uses storytelling to highlight important issues facing children
As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.
At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.
Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.
With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.
Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.