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Chen Receives NIH Grant to Study How Parasites Collectively Control Their Hosts

Virginia Watterson • DATE: May 13, 2016

Professor Danny Chen has received a five-year NIH R01 research grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) for the project titled "From Cells to Societies: Mechanisms by Which Microbial Parasites Control Host Phenotypes." This project seeks to study how the social behaviors of fungus cells inside their host ants collectively control the ants, and how the manipulated ants behave after being controlled (e.g., die attached to plants above the foraging trails of the ant colony). Experiments and image analysis will be conducted to identify fungi inside ants to examine the social behaviors of fungus cells and their dynamics.  Dr. Chen's role is on developing new algorithms for segmenting and analyzing fungus cells and ant tissues, their relations and dynamic connecting patterns.  This is a joint grant with Professors David Hughes (Lead PI), Ephraim Hanks, and Francesco Costanzo at Penn State University, University Park.