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Kumar Croped

RSAF: Inspiring student researchers

How can the Research and Scholarly Activity Fund (RSAF) inspire students to further their research? Dr. Prashant Kumar knows. Prashant, an instructor in Langara College’s biology department, received the RSAF grant in Fall 2018 for his project the Development and formulation of novel antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) for activity against Staphylococcus aureus.

Prashant began his academic career at Langara College in 2009, and after completing his associate degree, he transferred to UBC to complete a Bachelors in Biochemistry. Following this, he completed a PHD at UBC in 2018. Over the course of his studies his research and publications were based on developing new antimicrobial peptides which can be used for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections. Aware of the crisis with antibiotic resistance, he used his experience to work on a project that involved designing new antimicrobial peptides.

With the advent of bacterial resistance, it has become crucial to find substitutes to conventional antibiotics. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are considered to be viable alternatives because they are broad spectrum and the bacteria develops little or no resistance towards AMPs. Many studies have designed mutants of natural AMPs to increase the antimicrobial activity of peptides. The project involves the development of new antimicrobial peptides and will initially involve generating a peptide array by surveying the literature. The minimum inhibitory concentration assay will be used to test the effectiveness of the peptide array against Staphylococcus aureus at the Langara College microbiology labs. Prashant hopes to use the array data and quantitative structure-activity relationship software to predict future sequences and aid other scientists to design better peptides.

With the help of three undergraduate students, the project has generated a peptide array, and is in the process of completing the activity of the entire peptide array. So far, one peptide with moderate antimicrobial activity has been found. One the full array is completed, there will be a deeper understanding of the relationship between the sequence/structure and function of the peptides.

Three Langara undergraduate students have been involved with the project so far. Prashant says “they designed the peptide array and ran most of the antimicrobial assays, which was a great help. We were able to design the library in a few months. It was great to see three 2nd year biology students from Langara to learn and research about antimicrobial peptides. Two of the three students transferred into the 3rd year microbiology project at UBC. One of the student is working on the health sciences degree and is continuing with the project this fall. The project enabled us to provide an opportunity for students to be involved in research which is a valuable experience that will influence their career paths. Hoping to further study some of the peptides in more details and apply for a NSERC external grant.”

Following the success of this project, Prashant has applied for a second round of funding, and “thanks to the RSAF Adjudication Committee, I was approved for another RSAF this fall.”

This project received funding from Langara’s Research and Scholarly Activity Fund  (RSAF).  The RSAF awards up to $3,000 to encourage and support College employees who wish to pursue research and/or scholarly activities. With the initiatives outlined in the Langara College Academic Plan, activities may include, but are not limited to: building upon, or undertaking, projects of original research or scholarship involving community partners; initiating, maintaining, or updating an individual research portfolio; engaging Langara College students in research and scholarship; employing Langara College students as student aides; initiating collaborative research or scholarship with community partners; and building infrastructure pertaining to research and scholarship.  Visit RSAF for more information.

Scholarly Activity Steering Committee 

 

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