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Del Mar College students develop life-saving spray

Del Mar College team member Daniel Nasr Azadani demonstrates his team’s research project, EnteroSword, which fights antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Del Mar won first place for its entry into the Community College Innovation Challenge. Photo by NSF/Bill Petros Photography

A spray that slows the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria developed by Del Mar College students won first place in the recent third annual Community College Innovation Challenge. Finalists were announced in May in Washington, D.C., after EnteroSword beat out nine finalists for a prize of $1,500 for each team member.

The Del Mar team includes Danial Nasr Azadani, Reavelyn Pray and John Ramirez, all biotechnology majors with the College’s Natural Sciences Department. Their task was to produce a STEM-based solution to a real world problem in the categories of Maker to Manufacturer, Energy and Environment, and Security Technologies. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

“Becoming the champion of the 2017 NSF Innovation Challenge is amazing because over 100 teams nationwide competed initially,” said Dr. John “Rob” Hatherill, DMC professor of biology and faculty mentor of the winning team. “The 10 finalist teams were all very competitive, but I believe the result of this challenge can be directly related to our department’s discovery-based undergraduate research program.”

Authentic research is embedded into the course work at Del Mar College, one of the first community colleges accepted into the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education Alliance Phage Hunters program. SEA PHAGES is a pioneering research project for undergraduate students conducting campus biotechnology laboratory work. The program consists of a one-year research-mentoring course that develops concepts and techniques from classes across the biology spectrum, including molecular biology, electron microscopy, microbiology and bioinformatics.

The product developed could help save the 23,000 people in the United States who die each year from bacterial infections.

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