UMass Med School's Dr. Christopher Sassetti
Professor Christopher Sassetti, an assistant professor of Microbiology and Physiological Systems at the University of Massachusetts Medical School is committed to a goal: curing Tuberculosis.

According to Professor Sassetti, Tuberculosis is one of the three major killer diseases around the world and it is particularly hard to treat for because there is no vaccine, it is difficult to diagnose and the treatment is lengthy --- six to nine months.

Recovery Act Impact: UMass Medical School Research

  • Total stimulus funding: $61 million

  • Renovation of Biosafety Lab: $5.2 million

  • Finding drug targets for Tuberculosis: $177K

  • Potential to save many lives and millions of dollars

"That [length of time] is really hard in the developing world," said Dr. Sassetti. If the drug regimen is not sustained - which is often the case - it leads to treatment failure and drug resistance. But Dr. Sassetti has a plan: "We want to come up with ways to develop new drugs or develop drugs that work more quickly," he said.

UMass Med School's Dr. Christopher Sassetti
To help him achieve that, Dr. Sassetti's lab received $177K in stimulus funding which is being used to discover a drug that will inhibit the growth of the bacteria. An automated microscope takes pictures of bacteria growing at 10 minute intervals and creates a "movie" of the bacteria growing. "We are trying to find the function that is important for growth," explained Dr. Sassetti. "Generating these bacteria takes a lot of tricks and the stimulus funding is helping us with that."

Stimulus funding of $5.2 million is also renovating the UMass Biosafety Level 3 Laboratory, a hazardous materials lab, which will enable Dr. Sassetti to further his research by being able to work there with real strains of tuberculosis.

"It will be a really unique lab," said Dr. Sassetti. "We're really eager for it to be finished."