The University of Kansas in Lawrence recently established the Kansas Vaccine Institute within the School of Pharmacy. The institute’s two leading faculty members, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry William Picking and Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry Wendy Picking plan to develop vaccines to fight overlooked pathogens and boost human and animal health.

The husband-and-wife research team currently is focused on two species of pathogens, shigella and salmonella. Shigella, Wendy Picking says in a KU news release, is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in kids between two and five years old in the developing world.

Salmonella in livestock populations is linked to foodborne illness in the United States, and salmonella infects water supplies in the developing world, sickening about 3 billion people and killing 200,000 every year. According to the KU release, a vaccine to combat salmonella will be the first developed under the Pickings within the KVI, with partial KU ownership of the resulting patents. The team believes the vaccine could improve food safety and protect human health while also benefitting animal health and potentially reducing the use of antibiotics in livestock production.

William Picking says he expects animal-health vaccines developed at the institute to create jobs at area firms and benefit farmers, ranchers and processors of livestock. The region in which KU is located, known as the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, is responsible for 75 percent of all animal health sales in the world, he says. .

Read more from the University of Kansas.