UMB logo 01January 16, 2024  -  Principal Investigator Robert K. Ernst, PhD, the Dr. Paul and Mrs. Jean Corcoran Endowed Professor and chair of the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) and Distinguished University Professor, has been awarded a five-year, $9.4 million contract from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to continue work developing and testing novel adjuvants for the improvement of vaccines. Ernst was awarded $6.4 million in funding through the same NIAID program in 2018, bringing his total funding for adjuvant development to over $16 million.

Adjuvants are added vaccine ingredients that enhance the body’s immune response. The word “adjuvant” is derived from the Latin verb “to help or aid.” Ernst’s patented technology, bacterial enzymatic combinatorial chemistry (BECC), harnesses the power of microbiology to generate innovative adjuvants with the ability to aid protection from a variety of antigens. These BECC adjuvants show increased antibody production, improve T-cell activation, and extend the durability of vaccine protection compared to existing adjuvants.

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