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2015 OARDC Directors

Innovator of the Year Award

Hua Wang

Photo by Ken Chamberlain

Hua Wang is a professor in the

Department of Food Science and
Technology, based on the Columbus
campus. She is being recognized
for her original and significant
contributions to the understanding
and control of antibiotic resistance, a
huge problem impacting food safety,
public health and the healthcare
Historically, control of antibiotic
resistance had been focused on
minimizing the use of antibiotics,
but Wangs work is changing this
approach. She has demonstrated
that commensal bacteria, including
beneficial bacteria, serve as
reservoirs and facilitators for the
dissemination of antibiotic resistance in a microbial ecosystem such as ready-toeat food products. To combat this issue, she built strategic collaborations with
the U.S. dairy industry to remove antibiotic resistance gene-filled starter cultures
and probiotics used to make yogurt and cheese from major suppliers. This
significantly reduced antibiotic resistance bacteria in fermented dairy products
on the U.S. market in just a few years, protecting both public health and the
reputation of multibillion-dollar fermented dairy food industry.
In the healthcare industry, preventive application of antibiotics has been recently
minimized due to concerns about antibiotic resistance. However, Wang showed
that lack of early antibiotic intervention increases the chance of developing
chronic biofilm-based infections in patients, which are very difficult to treat with
antibiotics. Working through the American Society of Microbiologists, Wang
organized several conferences, presentations and meetings with government
officials. In 2013, the U.S. medical guidelines were modified to recommend


2015 oardc annual research conference

one more dosage of antibiotic after surgical procedures to prevent infection

complications, in part due to Wangs persistent campaign to help reduce
antibiotic resistance.
More recently, Wang has shown that oral antibiotic administration causes a rapid
increase in antibiotic resistance due to the commensal bacteria in the human gut.
By changing antibiotic administration from oral to injection, she has shown that
antibiotic resistance can be reduced up to 100,000 times in mice and poultry.
While this work still has to be verified in humans, Wang has been working with
government agencies and the U.S. Senate to facilitate policy changes and
adoption of new directions.
Wang has received one patent and has another pending as a result of her
research. She has received funding for antibiotic resistance research and
mitigation from the USDA, Battelle, the US-UK Global Innovation Initiative, the
Pew Foundation, the Chinese Ministry of Education and many sectors of the food
industry including dairy, soybean and pet food.
The OARDC Directors Innovator of the Year Award consists of a plaque and
$1,000 for Wang, and $2,500 added to the operating expense account of her
OARDC research program for one year.

2015 oardc annual research conference