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Outsmarting Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

October 2016

Jacob-Hatch

MRSA is bad news. If you’ve never heard of it, here’s what you need to know: It’s pronounced MER-suh, it’s a nasty bacterial infection and it can cause serious disease and death.

Senior molecular biology major Jacob Hatch knows MRSA as the infection that took his dad’s leg.

Hatch was thousands of miles away on an LDS mission when MRSA decalcified the bones in his dad’s foot and lower leg.

Now Hatch is exacting revenge on the bacteria. Researching alongside assistant professor of microbiology and molecular biology (and brother-in-law) Bradford Berges, Hatch is unlocking the power of a new MRSA-killer: bacteriophage.

Phages are viruses that seek out, infect and kill bacteria. Berges and Hatch’s research is showing that phages kill more than 99 percent of MRSA pathogens.

Thanks to the mentoring of Berges, Hatch has now published as an undergraduate student and is in prime position for medical school next year. He hopes his work can prevent others from the challenges his dad has faced.

“This research is my way of coping with it and feeling like I’ve been able to do something to solve these type of problems,” Hatch said. “It’s been so rewarding to see that it is working.”

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