Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences: Pilot Project: Exploring the Environmental Microbiome at the University of Kentucky: A Multi-Omics Approach Comparing Healthcare and Non-Healthcare Settings

Grants and Contracts Details


Abstract Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) present a significant and preventable threat in modern healthcare settings, contributing to substantial morbidity, mortality, and economic burdens. Surprisingly, waterborne pathogens, particularly Opportunistic Premise Plumbing Pathogens (OPPPs), account for a notable proportion of HAIs. These pathogens, resilient to conventional disinfection methods and thriving in biofilms within premise plumbing, pose substantial risks to public health. Moreover, emerging evidence suggests that the built environment''s microbiome plays a crucial role in influencing various health outcomes for occupants. Our study aims to investigate microbial communities in both healthcare and non- healthcare built environments to compare and identify potential microbial health risks. Leveraging multi-omics approaches, particularly focusing on water and water-related devices, we seek to comprehensively understand these microbial communities. In Aim 1, we will assess microbial diversity, identify pathogens, and perform antibiotic resistance profiling in water-related devices within the Kentucky Children''s Hospital (KCH) and non-healthcare buildings across the University of Kentucky (UK) campus. Utilizing shotgun metagenomic sequencing and antibiotic resistance testing, we aim to reveal unique microbial profiles and potential sources of waterborne pathogens, contributing to a better understanding of microbial ecology in healthcare units and non- healthcare settings. Aim 2 will involve comparing microbial communities between healthcare and non- healthcare built environments across the UK campus. Through pair-wise comparisons, we aim to elucidate distinct built environment microbiomes, providing valuable insights into microbial diversity, pathogen abundance, and antibiotic resistance profiles in diverse settings. The outcomes of this research will contribute to filling the knowledge gap regarding the transmission of waterborne pathogens in healthcare and non-healthcare settings, informing infection control guidelines and safeguarding water quality. Additionally, our findings will support the development of evidence-based strategies to prevent HAIs and combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria across various built environments.
Effective start/end date6/3/234/30/28


  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences


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