Breakthrough research on display

Photo by Matt Modoono.

Colorful images of research projects ranging from “Breakthroughs in Airport Security” to “Making Coastal Ecosystes Resilient” fill a large room off the Atrium of the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex. Attendees at the ISEC opening interact with Northeastern researchers who explain their groundbreaking findings.

Kim Lewis, University Distinguished Professor and director of the Antimicrobial Discovery Center, stands alongside a video demonstration of his work on “Eradicating Antibiotic-Resistant Disease.”

“One of the biggest problems facing humanity is antibiotic resistance,” says Lewis, who, with Distinguished Professor of Biology Slava Epstein, discovered a new antibiotic, called teixobactin, that kills pathogens without encountering any detectable resistance. What did the researchers do? They found a way to tap into the 99 percent of soil-based microorganisms, like teixobactin, that won’t grow in the lab. “Mother Earth has more compounds like teixobactin. We now have a platform to uncover them.”

Lee Makowski, professor and chair of the Department of Bioengineering, describes how his research provides new insights into the genesis and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. “With collaborators at Massachusetts General Hospital, experts in signal and image processing, and data from the Department of Energy research centers, we are getting closer to understanding the triggers and mechanisms driving the disease,” he says. Once you understand the molecular basis for the progression of the disease, he adds, “you can start asking the right questions about how to prevent it.”