Each year in the United States there are cases of gastrointestinal illnesses associated with drinking water. These grants are aimed to provide faster and more sensitive tests for local drinking water facilities to use in detecting pathogens.

Each year in the United States, there are cases of gastrointestinal illnesses associated with drinking water. Ten universities recently received grants from theU.S. Environmental Protection Agencytotalling $5 million for research to develop better methods for detecting harmful organisms in drinking water, including viruses, bacteria and protozoa. The grants, awarded through the EPA's Science to Achieve Results (STAR) research grants program, are aimed at ensuring that the United States has the safest drinking water in the world.

The grants were awarded to the following universities:


  • Tufts University (North Grafton, Mass.): A $600,000 grant for a rapid (less than four hours) method for detection of disease-causing organisms by drinking water facilities.


  • University of Arizona (Tucson, Ariz.): A $466,817 grant to develop a nanotechnology application for the rapid and economic concentration of gastrointestinal viruses, parasites, and bacteria.


  • Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (La Verne, Calif.): A $600,000 grant to study the use of molecular biology to extract nucleic acids from waterborne organisms, allowing facilities to detect a broad range of potential disease-causing organisms.


  • Michigan State University (East Lansing, Mich.): Two grants -- 1) a $600,000 grant for a new method that can simultaneously detect 20 waterborne pathogens in source and drinking water;  2) another $600,000 to develop a real-time tool to determine whether drinking water contains bacterial contaminants.


  • University of Washington (Seattle): A $597,987 grant for a rapid, sensitive method to detect and measure known and emerging pathogens.


  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Baltimore): A $600,000 grant to develop a new method to improve measurement of viruses and protozoa in drinking water, that could replace the current reliance on bacterial indicators only.


  • University of California (Riverside, Calif.): A $600,000 grant for a real-time method to detect and measure intestinal viruses in drinking water. 


  • Drexel University (Philadelphia): A $566,714 grant to develop sensors that can detect pathogens such as cryptosporidium without a concentration or filtration step.


  • University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, N.C.): A $600,000  grant for a real-time tool to detect multiple classes of microbial pathogens.

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