SBU Researchers Receive $1.2 Million to Prevent Surface Pathogens

UT Battelle LLC, a management contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science, has awarded $1.2 million to Stony Brook University researchers for a study to test surface pathogen prevention. The work is being conducted by associate professor Tadanori Koga and research professor Maya Endoh in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences Department of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering.

The COVID-19 pandemic heightened public awareness of the potential for pathogens to spread via contaminated surfaces like doorknobs, countertops, and tables. This federal grant is funding research that seeks to curb surface contamination altogether.

The grant is part of the DOE’s Biopreparedness Research Virtual Environment (BRaVE) initiative dedicated to supporting multidisciplinary research efforts projected to strengthen precautionary measures against infectious disease outbreaks. The grant term runs into December 2026.

This new study aims to improve understanding of the physical and chemical interactions that take place when a pathogen comes into contact with a material surface.

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Tadanori Koga

In collaboration with scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, the Stony Brook research team will use experimental and computational methods to identify correlations between pathogen responses and surface characteristics at the molecular level.

Findings from this work may accelerate the process of analyzing emerging pathogens and inform the design of new materials to address future biological threats.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lot of concern that the virus could be attached to the surfaces of many household items,” said Koga. “This demonstrates the importance and relevance of creating surfaces that can essentially prevent viruses such as COVID-19 from sticking. Another example is mold growth in your bathtub, or really any kind of biological growth that could potentially lead to infection from exposure.”

A predetermined set of viral, bacterial and fungal pathogens will be used as research models, but Endoh says the study will remain flexible as demands evolve.

Read more about the Koga/Endoh group’s body of nanoscale research on the research group’s website.

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