The Flinn Foundation has awarded $200,000 to Northern Arizona University, which will collaborate with Flagstaff Medical Center on a project identifying how and where people in the community get infected with common germs.

“It will be used to link clinical cases of infectious agents to their sources in the community, and projects that are not even conceived at this point will eventually be possible through this work,” said Paul Keim, Regents professor and director of TGEN’s Pathogen Genomics Division.

This project is part of the Translational Health Research Initiative, the formal partnership between NAU and Northern Arizona Healthcare, FMC’s parent company.

“We have identified common goals so that we can work together to improve the health of our communities,” said Mark Carroll, FMC’s interim chief medical officer.

The genome analysis will take place at NAU with continuous consultation with FMC staff, who will help researchers understand the results in the context of a health care setting. This collaboration is expected to improve understanding of exposure to common infections and guide future research efforts to prevent illness.

A critical component of this project is creating a biobank, a collection of tubes in an ultra cold freezer, along with computer files about the specimens. Along with facilitating infectious disease research, the biobank will support future studies and grant submissions.

Robert Trotter, NAU’s associate vice president for Health Research Initiatives, said the THRIVE partnership for community-based health care research could become a model, which could be adopted in other cities and regions.

The Flinn Foundation is a Phoenix-based philanthropic organization, which funds initiatives designed to improve quality of life in Arizona for future generations. The Foundation’s Seed Grants Initiative to Promote Translational Research in Precision Medicine will cover two years of funding for the NAU partnership.