The United States Department of Defense has awarded Barry University a $1.9 million congressionally-directed grant. These funds from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will allow researchers to conduct studies that could lead to the reduction of bacteria in wound infections for soldiers in combat.
The two-year project will be guided by Dr. Gerhild Packert, associate dean and professor in Barry's College of Nursing and Health Sciences in conjunction with its School of Podiatric Medicine Dean, Dr. Jeffrey Jensen, and Dr. Evelio Velis, health services administration program director.
Dr. Jensen, a surgeon and wound healing expert, will assist in oversight of the project and supervise graduate students.
"Enabling nitric oxide to penetrate tissues and eradicate bacteria would certainly benefit soldiers in the field," said Dr. Jensen, who has clinical experience with nitric oxide in healing chronic wounds."But there is also a tremendous need for addressing bacterial infections in chronic wounds secondary to diabetes, venous insufficiency, and pressure areas in elderly patients."Nitric oxide could assist in the healing process by addressing bacterial burden in wounds without"drug resistance" so commonly seen with systemic antibiotics."
Included in the grant - the largest research grant the university has received - are funds to support a team of six researchers, 12 graduate and undergraduate students and more than $450,000 for laboratory equipment and supplies.
This innovative research project titled, "Identify parameters for the optimal delivery of pressurized nitric oxide to reduce bioburden in wound infections," will specifically study how to deliver nitric oxide to deeper layers of skin in order to reduce the presence of pathogens. Researchers will examine how much pressure is safe to use by testing on human skin models in the laboratory at the Paul & Margaret Brand Research Center at Barry University.
This is the second DARPA grant awarded to Barry University. Last year, Dr. Packert and Dr. Velis received $1.2 million to assist military and humanitarian needs by testing water quality for safe use during emergency conditions. The team is currently examining the reliability of water test kits in finding bacteria and parasites in fresh water.
Findings could potentially result in the manufacturing of emergency medical equipment to treat soldiers hurt on the battle field. These results can also lead to further funding for clinical studies.