Waynesburg student conducts unprecedented MRSA research

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6 4Jeff Johns

A student-and-professor team at Waynesburg University has conducted significant research regarding the transmission of antibiotic resistance between pathogenic MRSA and non-pathogenic microbes.

“We are the first to ever look at this type of research and are hoping to publish this by the end of summer,” said Jeffrey L. Johns Jr., who graduated from Waynesburg University in May.

Johns and his mentor, Dr. Chad R. Sethman, assistant professor of biology, together studied the carriage rates of genes that encode for antibiotic resistance in pathogenic and non-pathogenic microbes in relationship to MRSA.

The former biology (pre-med) student dedicated his last two years of study at Waynesburg University to this research, with the goal of investigating how various microbiological events contribute to the development of nasal carriage of MRSA among college students.

“We hypothesized that non-pathogenic microbes are harboring these genes and are going undetected in clinical settings,” Johns said. “If these bacteria are harboring this gene and passing it to pathogenic microbes, this could be one of the reasons for the major outbreaks.”

To date, no other published reports regarding the dynamics of carriage rates of antibiotic resistant S.epidermidis exist.

“Jeff was well-known among the science faculty for his proactive academic nature and his eagerness to engage in the most challenging courses and course activities,” said Dr. Sethman. “He has great potential for becoming a very successful scientist.”

The Upper Burrell, Pa., native plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine next fall.

“Conducting your own research at the undergraduate level shows that not only can you take an exam and do well, but also that you can apply the knowledge you have gained to a practical application,” Johns said.

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Contact: Ashley Wise, Communication Specialist
724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu