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College of Science & Mathematics

Greg Caputo & his students changing the future of medicine

Through a grant from the National Institutes of Health, Rowan University students are researching ways to improve antibiotics by using naturally occurring parts of the immune system.


An increase in prescribed antibiotic medication has led to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria. However, bacteria have not yet been able to develop resistance to host defense peptides, innate molecules in the immune system. As part of this relatively new field of research, students are investigating how and why these molecules chemically kill bacteria.  


Assistant professor of chemistry & biochemistry Greg Caputo heads the research. "There's still a lot we don't know about these molecules," says Caputo who began to study this area during his postdoctoral work at University of Pennsylvania. 


The students examine peptides on a chemical level to determine what makes one a good bacterial killer but not another. Researchers will eventually apply this information to developing small molecules and potentially develop new therapeutics.


Conducting this research benefits students by giving them hands on laboratory experience. They are learning techniques that will train them for jobs, graduate school and medical school.