TYLER, Texas (December 19, 2023) – The University of Texas at Tyler was awarded a grant of approximately $300,000 by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The grant will fund laboratory research by Dr. Shashikant Srivastava, a tenured associate professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Cellular & Molecular Biology at the UT Tyler School of Medicine.
Srivastava’s objective is to discover more effective treatments for Mycobacterium avium complex, the most common type of nontuberculous mycobacteria, or NTM, in the United States. NTM is an environmentally acquired infection. While it primarily affects the lungs, it can appear in other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes, skin, soft tissue and bones. People with cystic fibrosis, a progressive, genetic disease that affects the lungs, pancreas and other organs, are at high risk for infections, including NTM.
“This grant will enhance opportunities for transformative research,” said Dr. Torry Tucker, associate dean for research at the UT Tyler School of Medicine. “Cystic fibrosis is a challenging condition, and with this funding, Dr. Srivastava’s work will provide new research opportunities and offer hope to those affected by this disease. We are excited about the potential impact his research can have on the field of cystic fibrosis and the lives of patients.”
In the United States, around 11.7 per 100,000 of the population are infected with Mycobacterium avium complex lung disease, and older women are at an even higher risk of developing the infection. According to a paper in the European Respiratory journal, around 7.9% of cystic fibrosis patients are infected with the disease with the percentage increasing by the day.
Current treatment for Mycobacterium avium complex, which often includes injectable drugs, can last 1-2 years and is effective in only about 50% of patients. Srivastava’s goal is to combine four different drugs to optimize an oral treatment that only lasts six months or less, saving thousands of dollars and improving the patient’s quality of life.
“We’re improving the treatment for NTM infections to improve quality of life and reduce side effects so that people with cystic fibrosis can live longer, healthier lives,” said Srivastava.
Srivastava obtained his Master of Science and PhD in environmental science from Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University in India. He served as an assistant professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Baylor Institute for Immunology Research for seven years before becoming a UT Tyler faculty member in 2020. He is currently on track to graduate from the UT Tyler Soules College of Business’ Executive MBA Healthcare Management Program in 2024.
With a mission to improve educational and health care outcomes for East Texas and beyond, UT Tyler offers more than 90 undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 10,000 students. Through its alignment with UT Tyler Health Science Center and UT Health East Texas, UT Tyler has unified these entities to serve Texas with quality education, cutting-edge research and excellent
patient care. Classified by Carnegie as a doctoral research institution and by U.S. News & World Report as a national university, UT Tyler has campuses in Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston.