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Advanced Bacteriophage Therapy – An Alternative to Antibiotics (Koo Lab) - FULL

Our competitive Research Intensives program places high-achieving high school students in professional working labs alongside distinguished faculty, graduate and undergraduate students.

Advanced Bacteriophage Therapy – An Alternative to Antibiotics (Koo Lab)

Antibiotics have been used successfully to treat bacterial infection in both humans and animals for many years. In livestock, antibiotics are used for growth promotion, feed efficiency and veterinary medicine. Unfortunately, extensive use of antibiotics has led to the proliferation of novel antimicrobial resistance mechanisms. Therefore, there is an urgent need to address this global issue with the use of alternative therapies that can eliminate the risks posed by antibiotic treatments at the primary production level.

The aim of this project is to develop alternative therapies for bacterial treatment that have lower risk of developing drug resistance and that are target-specific. Bacteriophages can eliminate specific pathogenic bacteria without affecting the normal, beneficial intestinal microflora, by infecting and lysing its targeted host during the infection cycle. The specific destructive mechanism of phage therapy is a clear advantage over traditional antibiotic treatments, where the beneficial GI microflora is affected. Currently, oral delivery of phages in livestock are inefficient as they use a high dosage of a phage cocktail in hopes to reduce shedding of pathogenic bacteria. During the digestive process, the unprotected phage are susceptible to damage which can lead to decreased effectiveness of the therapy. Thus, our lab focuses on designing delivery systems that can provide a more efficient and effective means for delivery of phages to the gut, which is the main site to control pathogen shedding.

Students will be involved in projects with other researchers in the lab designing delivery systems for in vitro phage therapy.  Through individual or small group experiments, students will acquire chemistry, microbiology and bioengineering laboratory techniques.   

The Koo Lab can host 2 students. Learn more.

Program Overview

During this program, high school students will assist UMass faculty and graduate students in research labs while learning about research methodologies and contributing to ongoing research studies. Each student will create and present a research poster to faculty, fellow students, friends and family at a poster session at the end of the program.

Students will come away with an introduction to the field of Food Science, firsthand experience with university-level research, and an understanding of opportunities that exist for undergraduate students at a major R1 university such as UMass Amherst.


For all Research Intensives applications: In your statement of interest, please include 3 lab choices from our list of available labs along with a brief explanation of your interest in each one.

This course is offered at the UMass Amherst campus as a residential program. Local students may apply to attend as a commuter.