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Ashlee Brunaugh, PhD

Faculty Starter Grant in Drug Delivery, 2023 University of Michigan

Beating Antibiotic Resistance Through Inhaled Delivery of Multi-Drug Particles


Antibiotic-resistant infections are a major threat facing humanity. Bacteria have several ways to reduce effectiveness of drugs, such as changing their cell membrane to make it harder for drugs to enter or using special pumps to remove the antibiotic from the cell. The location of bacteria in the body can also make treating infections more difficult.

In this project, we will increase the ability of existing antibiotics to kill bacteria by pairing them with non-antibiotic compounds that can alter bacterial cell membranes, thus improving the ability for the antibiotic to get inside the bacteria. We will engineer these combinations into particles that can be inhaled by patients with lung infections. The inhaled particles will target the drug combinations to the infection’s location to minimize exposure to the rest of the body, thereby increasing the safety and effectiveness of antibiotic treatment.

This PhRMA Foundation award will have a tremendous impact on my research trajectory by providing the necessary resources to develop a novel inhaled delivery platform for the controlled release of multi-drug combinations for the treatment of extensively drug resistant gram-negative lung infections.

Ashlee Brunaugh