Many antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections are on the rise. In fact, by 2050 antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections are expected to be the number one cause of death in the U.S. (www.cdc.gov). India is where many of the antibiotic-resistant genes evolve due to the high population combined with the presence of antibiotics in the local rivers and lakes from antibiotic production factories. We plan to travel to India, isolate DNA from local sources, such as rivers and lakes, and then return to BYU to identify antibiotic-resistant genes present in the DNA, giving us an understanding of emerging disease before it hits the clinic. In addition, we will be taking samples from which to harvest bacteriophages, viruses that can infect and kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These bacteriophages are a novel treatment for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Bacteriophages were likely first reported in 1896 when Ernest Hanbury Hankin described something in the waters of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India with antibacterial action that could pass through a very fine porcelain filter. We will be in the heart of both antibiotic resistance emergence and bacteriophage history, while enjoying the rich and ancient history, art and culture of India.
The study abroad will begin by meeting in Paris from where we will fly together to New Delhi. Program travel will also include visits to the cities of Jaipur, Agra, Gwalior. Experiences will include visits to the Jama Masjid (India’s largest Mosque), the Raj Ghat (the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi), the Amer Fort–the original capital of State, Maharaja’s City palace and garden, the Taj Mahal, Abhaneri (stair-wells invented to harvest rain water), the Mitawali temple, Garhi padawali, and the Bateswara group of temples.