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Biomedical Grants

The Research Program integrates Translational Research, focusing on the "Bench to Bedside" concept, linking the 4 engineered models, The Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, Mountain State Oral Facial Dental Laboratory and various "resource tools." It integrates with CIpMP (Center for Immunopathology and Microbial Pathogenesis), one of 5 recognized WVU School of Medicine Centers. Additional collaborative centers on WVU's campus include National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health ( and WVU School of Engineering (, as well as the Center for Biological Imaging ( at Pittsburgh University.


Purdue University (Dr. Paul Robinson – PI) and West Virginia University (Dr. John Thomas – Co-PI) have co-authored a NIH Seed Grant to develop and evaluate rapid detection of food borne pathogens, aiding Homeland Security officials in responding to a bioterrorist attack or other infectious disease emergencies (i.e., Salmonella and egg-borne food poisoning). The Grant is for $1.35 million. The unique methodology will incorporate new laboratory detection procedures linked to national centers with a coordinated rapid recognition and response; applications of the protocol will be tested for broader use in medical institutions with a focus on reducing cost, Length of Stay (LOS), and reduced use of antibiotics for seriously ill patients.

  1. Evaluate unique instrumentation and rapid thru-put in a hospital environment (WVUH, test site), while developing an "organism identification directory"
  2. Evaluate communication system and rapid alert capability
  3. Evaluate broader application to medical and dental microbiology, including impact on Length of Stay, antibiotic usage and cost reduction.

For additional information:


  • Following the 2000 Surgeon General's Report addressing Oral Health Disparity, WVU School of Dentistry and Pittsburgh University School of Dentistry combined resources (COHRA-Center for Oral Health Research in Appalachia) to successfully obtain (in 2002 and 2006) two significant NIDCR Grants that address the disparity of oral health, unique evaluations, and outcomes. We are particularly interested in establishing a predictive, Oral Microbial Signature (OMS) from throat swabs.

    Genetic Factors Contributing to Oral Heath Disparities in Appalachia, (COHRA) (2002-2007) ($224,993/year) Principal Investigator: M Marazita.

    Microbiology Supplemental Grant. NIDCR Genetic Factors Contributing to Health Disparity in Appalachia. NIDCR 1-R01-DEO14899 (2005-2010) ($224,000/year). Principal Investigator: JG Thomas.


    • Thomas, J.G., Gray, D., Nakaishi, L., Crout, R., McNeil D., Weyant R., and Marazita, M.  "3 Species Oral Microbial Signature from Two Rural Populations."  IADR 2006 Orlando, FL.

    • Thomas, J.G., Yakubu, D.E., Karakiozis, J., Martin, C.A., Crout, R., Bretz, Weyant, R.  "Defining Appalachian Communities by Antibiotic Resistance Profiles."  AADR 2003 San Antonia, TX.


  • Tyco Healthcare, Nellcor:
    In 2002, Tyco Healthcare, Nellcor Division invested significant support and resource to evaluation a silver containing endotracheal tube (ETT) utilizing, the VEL Co-Biofilm Model to duplicate the ICU respiratory environment of COPD patient and a multi-species 14 day biofilm.

    Phase I studies focused on silver concentration, Phase II on determining effectiveness, and Phase III on long-term (29 days) anti-biofilm impact.

    • Assessment of Silver Coated "Guardian" Endotrachs (ETTs) on lumenal Biofilm Formation (2002-present)
      Principal Investigator: John G. Thomas ($136,000).  Three research fellowships.  Expanded to 6 VEL workstations ($380,000) supporting additional graduate student and lead technologist.

    50% of J. Thomas Salary, Principal Consultant, Tyco Healthcare, "Biofilms and Anti-Biofilm Endotrach."

    One full-time technologist.


    • Thomas, J.G., Parsons, J., Siegl, P. "Dispersal of Lumenal Biofilms as Preconditions for Ventilator Associated Pneumonia (VAP)."  ASM 2005 Atlanta, GA

    • Thomas, J.G., Gangisetty, S., Karakiozis, J., Martens, P.  "The Antibiofilm Effect of a Silver Releasing Compound in a Polymicrobic Ventiator Endotrach Lung Model."  ASM 2005 Atlanta, GA.

  • Extubated ETT Pressure Drop Study (2006-present)
    In 2006, parallel studies to the VEL biofilm model recognized the increased airway resistance attributable to lumenal biofilms of extubated ETTs, and the growing connection between oral and systemic diseases.  Studies were developed to investigate an ETT co-biofilm composed of a dental and ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP) microbial "cocktails."


    • Thomas, J.G., Martens, P., Gray, D., Nakaishi, L., and Ortiz, M.  "Impact of ETT Accretions on Airway Resistance in MV Patients."  ICACC 2006 San Francisco, CA.

    • Thomas, J.G., Thomas, K., Powala, C.  "Unmasking the Link Between Ventilator Associated Pneumonia (VAP), Periodontal Disease and Biofilms."  ASM 2005 Atlanta, GA.

  • Tyco Healthcare, United States Surgical Anti-Infective Suture Polymer
    In 2005, US Surgical invested significant support in the study of a unique, non-anti-infective suture structure to inhibit adherence growth of single and multi-species biofilms on sutures.  The Broth Model was developed and modified to incorporate non-culture techniques, direct imaging by CLSM with unique probes, via use of a cell culture medium that simulated a wound environment

    Principal Investigator: J. Thomas. Study evaluating methods of preventing Biofilm formation on Sutures. 

    25% of salary for J. Thomas supports 3 new technologists and one Ph.D. $430,000

Contract Research

  • We encourage discussions with our faculty for collaborative studies.  Options include biomedical contracts in concert with the Office of Sponsored Programs ( or individual assays based on results of individual tests. 

    We also encourage discussions for modifications of existing models or design implementation of newer strategies.