ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany Medical College scientists have received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to research a vaccine for plague. Plague is most often found in the rural areas of southwest America: New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado.

The research is being conducted by Dr. Wei Sun, associate professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbial Disease at the college, along with three colleagues. Although scarce, Sun explained the importance of developing a vaccine.

“While plague in humans is relatively rare, we’ve begun to see strains that are resistant to antibiotics and there are concerns it could be used as a bioweapon,” he explained. “Our hope is that this project provides the fundamentals for the development of a highly effective and safe vaccine that can protect against current and future strains of plague.”

There are three main types of the plague which is a highly contagious disease: bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic. Sun and his team will be using a bacteria strain that’s less lethal to develop the vaccine.