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William F. Connell School of Nursing

Gregory receives Harvard Catalyst Pilot Grant

Assistant professor of nursing Katherine Gregory, along with her investigative team, was awarded a Harvard Catalyst Pilot Grant to study the microbiome aspects of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in premature infants.

Assistant professor of nursing Katherine Gregory, along with her investigative team, was awarded a Harvard Catalyst Pilot Grant to study the microbiome aspects of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in premature infants. NEC is one of the most serious complications of premature infant birth, a life-threatening gastrointestinal disease associated with malnutrition, growth failure, neurodevelopmental delay, and prolonged neonatal hospitalization among survivors.

As an investigator on this multi-disciplinary project, Dr. Gregory will assess the usefulness of stool samples obtained from premature infants to develop a microbiome profile that will predict NEC in a population of extremely low gestational age infants. The use of stool samples for this type of research is advantageous because obtaining stool is noninvasive, and will not deplete the premature infant of a limited blood volume. Dr. Gregory believes that defining the intestinal microbiota in premature infants at risk for NEC will lead to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of the disease, and eventually an improved ability to develop disease prediction strategies and clinical interventions that will prevent this disease.

Harvard Catalyst is a Harvard University enterprise funded by the National Institutes of Health dedicated to improving human health (NIH Grant #1 UL1 RR 025758-01). It offers a systemic way for investigators from disparate disciplines and institutions to find each other and form teams, to gain open access to tools and technologies, and to obtain seed funding to embark upon new areas of investigation. In addition to Boston College, Harvard Catalyst includes the ten schools and 18 academic healthcare centers that are part of the Harvard system, including MIT, the Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and numerous community partners.

Dr. Gregory will work with Dr. Allan Walker from Massachusetts General Hospital and Dr. Linda Van Marter from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Children's Hospital, Boston. The research team exemplifies the aim of the multi-disciplinary Harvard Catalyst: to speed the reduction of human illness.