May 22, 2024
Tim Cernak's headshot

Timothy Cernak, Assistant Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Chemistry, and his research team have been awarded a grant through the Meet the Moment Research Initiative, to advance efforts to develop effective treatments for fungal infections in endangered species – specifically frogs and bats. Collaborators on the grant include Tim James and Kelly Speer of the University of Michigan, and Brian Gratwicke of the Smithsonian Zoo. 


Funded through the College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts, or LSA, the Meet the Moment Research Initiative focuses on faculty research and scholarship across liberal arts that address pressing issues in society. Cernak’s team will receive funding for their proposal titled “A One Health Approach to Combat Fungal Infections in Endangered Species.” This project will begin in July. 


Cernak’s research looks at an infectious fungus found in many frog species called chytrid, and the fungus that causes white nose syndrome in bats. These fungal infections have led to drastic reductions in frog and bat populations around the globe. The goal for his team is to eradicate the pending extinction of bats and frogs. 


The team’s research is meant to help not only wildlife but humankind. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention refers to this approach as One Health – the idea that the health of people is closely connected to the health of animals and our shared environment. You can read in-depth about Cernak’s work connecting medicinal chemistry to conservation in a recently published article in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 


For a full list of this year’s Meet the Moment Research Initiative awardees, read the release from LSA here.