Queensborough Explores Metal Surface Toxicity against Harmful Bacteria, Through a Grant from the Copper Development Association

December 15, 2010 | Queensborough Community College

Even in the best hospitals, deadly bacteria can survive on common use surfaces for days, including patient bed rails, tray tables, nurse’s call buttons, door handles push plates, IV poles, and the arms of visitors’ chairs. However, in a recent study by Copper Development Association it was determined that bacterial contamination levels in hospital ICU rooms were reduced by over 90% when stainless steel fixtures were changed to a copper-containing alloy such as brass.

“To me, the interesting question is how copper alloy surfaces kill bacteria?” said Dr. Nidhi Gadura, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences and Geology at Queensborough Community College. Dr. Gadura’s proposal, Membrane Lipid Peroxidation as a Mechanism of Copper Surface-Mediated Toxicity, resulted in a second grant from the Copper Development Association. The first grant was awarded to Queensborough Community College in 2008.

“My students are exploring the survival of different strains of bacteria following exposure to a variety of copper alloy surfaces containing 60% to 100% copper.  We also want to understand the complexities and mechanisms of this cell death,” added Dr. Gadura. “I believe our findings will help support the Copper Development Association in their endeavors to reduce hospital acquired infection rates by convincing hospitals of the need to change frequently touched surfaces to copper alloys.”

In October, Queensborough student Bo Zhi (Robert) Hong presented his copper related project results at the regional Metropolitan Association of College and University Biologists (MACUB), where he tied for the First place award. He also presented his findings at the national Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in November.

Queensborough now has a Dual/Joint A.S./B.S. Degree Program in Biotechnology with its sister CUNY institution,  York College, that will allow graduates to transfer seamlessly into their B.S. in Biotechnology.

Queensborough Community College, a college of The City University of New York (CUNY), located on a picturesque 37-acre site in Bayside, Queens, offers a rich liberal arts and science curriculum, as well as career and pre-professional courses. Over half of the faculty holds doctorates compared with 21% of faculty in other community colleges nationwide. Comprising one of the most diverse populations of any college in the U.S., nearly 15,000 students pursue an Associate degree or Certificate program and another 10,000 students of all ages attend continuing education programs. Among the campus’s prized resources are the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center, the QCC Art Gallery, and the Queensborough Performing Arts Center (QPAC), created to stimulate ideas and intellectual curiosity while exposing students and the public to culture and the arts. Please visit our website at qcc.cuny.edu.

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