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Student’s research aims to overcome antibiotic resistance

"M

y research keeps me awake at night,” said Trevor Boram. “But in a good way.”

Boram, a Ph.D. candidate in biochemistry, began his collegiate career at Indiana University East. There, a faculty mentor who completed a postdoc at Purdue encouraged Boram to apply to graduate school in West Lafayette.

“My visit to Purdue was an amazing experience,” said Boram. “It felt like everybody here wanted me in their department.”

During faculty presentations to incoming graduate students, Boram was intrigued by the research of Jeremy Lohman, an assistant professor of biochemistry.

“I realized his work was incredibly important. It used medical applications of biochemistry to solve modern-day health crises,” Boram said.

Boram’s rotation in Lohman’s lab solidified his interest. Since fall 2017, Boram has worked in the same research space his Indiana University East mentor previously did.

“With my advisor’s support, I feel motivated to think up my own ideas and work hard in the lab to see if we can make them happen.”

Boram studies how the human body makes fatty acids and their secondary metabolites. These specialized molecules are used to make pharmaceuticals.

“Our lab has taken a new approach to study the specific phenomenon,” said Boram, who uses synthetic organic chemistry to make novel compounds and takes pictures using X-ray crystallography.

The resulting knowledge could lead to new antibiotics that can overcome antibiotic resistance and extend human lifespans.

“Every day my job gives me the opportunity to make new chemicals and learn strategies to apply to a real problem,” said Boram.

At Purdue, Boram has mentored 16 undergraduate students and chaired the 2020 Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Biomolecular Galaxy symposium. After completing his Ph.D. next spring, he plans to work as a chemist in the industry and conduct research in drug discovery.

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