The University of Chicago

To characterize the surface, air, water and human-associated microbial communities in two hospitals to monitor changes following the introduction of patients and staff

  • Amount $856,900
  • City Chicago, IL
  • Investigator Jack Gilbert
  • Year 2012
  • Program Research
  • Sub-program Microbiology of the Built Environment

Funds from this grant support a research project by University of Chicago microbiologist Jack Gilbert and Chicago surgeon John Alverdy, to study microbial populations at a newly constructed hospital at the University of Chicago. By studying the characteristics of microbial populations before and after the hospital becomes operational, the project will shed light on how the introduction of doctors, nurses, patients, and visitors, staff change the microbes that live and thrive in hospital environments. Using a multidisciplinary team that includes microbial ecologists architects, building scientists, statisticians, and epidemiologists, Gilbert and Alverdy will take nearly 13,000 microbial samples and analyze them to investigate whether microbial community structure on hospital surfaces can be predicted by human demographics, physical conditions and/or building materials; how patient-room microbiota is influenced by the current patient, his length of stay, and/or the introduction of a new patient; how the colonization of surfaces by pathogens of surfaces is sped or impeded by existing microbial communities on those surfaces, and how the rate of change in a microbial community is affected by building materials and human use. The team plans to publish at least three articles on their research in peer-reviewed journals, and their findings may be of use to the health care community, leading to better patient care through crafting a more complete understanding of how microorganisms spread through hospitals.

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