Brian Merkel and students

Dec. 7 event aimed at discovering new antibiotics

More than 200 registered for ‘Tiny Earth’ event at Lambeau Field

Green Bay, Wis. — Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health. The “Tiny Earth” event at Lambeau Field on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the Lambeau Field Atrium (Indoor Clubs, Fourth Floor) hopes to help combat that threat.

Tiny Earth, is a global network of educators who teach a college research course aimed at discovering new antibiotics. More than 100 student researchers and more than 250 registrants from colleges and universities across the state, and the general public, will participate in this week’s event.

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Human Biology Prof. Brian Merkel (merkelb@uwgb.edu) is one of the organizers of the event. Merkel is also an adjunct faculty member at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW-Green Bay) with expertise in microbiology and immunology. He said this is the first of what he hopes is an annual Tiny Earth event in the Green Bay area.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about antibiotics,” Merkel said. “There are now pathogenic bacteria that are completely resistant to antibiotics. The ‘Tiny Earth’ aspect is essentially making the planet smaller by connecting with other like-minded researchers on college and university campuses throughout the world to student-source antibiotic discovery. It’s our hope that the Tiny Earth initiative will help us strike gold with new antibiotics.”

The Tiny Earth curriculum provides students with the opportunity for scientific discovery, thereby capturing the very aspects of science that inspire students to pursue STEM careers. Students are inspired both by the chance to do authentic science and to be part of a global effort addressing a looming public health crisis.

“For me, professionally, working with Tiny Earth has been a great opportunity, and I think that is the case for anyone who that really enjoys the idea of working together to address complex problems that help the common good,” Merkel said.

Merkel says the most promising antibiotic samples characterized in participating Tiny Earth lab courses will get shipped to UW-Madison to identify the chemical structure of the compounds.

“This analysis will help us understand if we have discovered a ‘new’ antibiotic. This is a highly valuable research partnership for UW-Green Bay,” Merkel said.

Merkel says that the support of his colleagues and the administration at both UW-Green Bay and MCW-Green Bay has been the key to an inaugural success of Tiny Earth Green Bay.

MCW-Green Bay, Cherney labs, Nature’s Way and Associated Bank are sponsoring the event.

Learn more.

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