PhD candidate Agastya Sharma awarded NIH F31 grant

On Jan. 23, Agastya Sharma's Fellowship application was awarded from the NIH after receiving a perfect score. Agastya is currently a Molecular Genetics and Microbiology grad student in the lab of Raphael Valdivia.

The Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (F31) award supports promising life science predoctoral students in research relevant to the mission of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The fellowship champions strong personalized mentorship, both in scientific and future career endeavors as they grow into productive, independent research scientists.

Agastya’s proposal focuses on understanding how Akkermansia muciniphila, a commensal microbe, acquires and metabolizes intestinal mucin. This microbe has been gaining interest lately because of its beneficial effects on human health, though its exact lifestyle in the gut is unexplored. Agastya’s work focuses on finding key genes and pathways this microbe uses to harvest mucins in the gut by using a combination of genetic and biochemical experiments. This work will be instrumental in guiding the development of Akkermansia muciniphila into a next-generation probiotic.