Rhodes College Awarded $502K NSF Grant to Conduct Research That Could Lead to Development of New Antifungal Drugs

image of Qian Shen standing on Rhodes College campus

Rhodes College is being awarded a U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in the amount of $502,946 for research conducted by Dr. Qian Shen, assistant professor of biology.

The award for the project titled “The Molecular Basis For Carbon Dioxide Sensing And Response In Dimorphic Fungi” will be distributed over three years and will involve students from Rhodes College and LeMoyne-Owen College. Students will gain valuable experience carrying out mentored research that provides excellent training in the biomedical sciences.

This project seeks to understand how the dimorphic fungal pathogen Histoplasma capsulatum senses and responds to the shift of carbon dioxide concentration in the environment. The results from this project have the potential to lead in the development of novel antifungal drugs to combat life-threatening fungal infections by interfering with the carbon dioxide sensing and response mechanisms in fungal pathogens.

“I am excited to bring this opportunity to the Rhodes campus,” said Shen. “The funding not only supports student research, but also allows me to purchase new scientific instruments that will enhance the overall research and education infrastructure at Rhodes.”

“This award, made as part of the Building Research Capacity of New Faculty in Biology program, will both further science in ways that align with NSF’s efforts to advance the bioeconomy and strengthen the nation’s research enterprise,” said Ishita Mukerji, a program director in NSF’s Directorate for Biological Sciences. “In addition to the benefits from the potential practical applications on industrial fermentation of natural products, NSF’s investment will strengthen the STEM workforce by broadening participation at both the institutional and individual level.”

“Rhodes is proud of Prof. Shen’s extraordinary accomplishment. This award affirms the outstanding quality of our Biology Department and demonstrates the amazing research opportunities available to our students,” said Dr. Timothy Huebner, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Shen joined Rhodes’ biology department in 2020, and he also serves on the organizing committee for the college’s biochemistry and molecular biology interdisciplinary program. Shen holds a Ph.D. in microbiology from The Ohio State University.