Director, Faculty of Medical Sciences Microbiology Containment Level 3 Research Suites
Chair, ICaMB Microbiological Hazards and Genetic Modification Safety Advisory Committee
Member, ICaMB Safety Committee
Advisor, University Microbiological Hazards and Genetic Modification Safety Advisory Committee
PhD in Molecular Biology, with Professor John Scaife FRSE, University of Edinburgh.
BSc Hons in Biochemistry, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.
University of Cambridge, Postdoctoral Research Fellow.
Lecturer in Microbiology, University of Newcastle.
Our major research objectives are to understand the biology of Salmonella and gain insights into the mechanisms by which it causes disease. We are using a mutidisciplinary approach with an international team of collaborators to fulfill these objectives.
Quorum Sensing and Host-Pathogen Communication
Research on quorum sensing has provided vivid insights into the mechanisms by which bacteria coordinate their efforts and behave in a “multicellular” fashion. We are investigating how Salmonella use small signal molecules called autoinducers to communicate with each other, and aim at identifying the genes and physiological processes regulated by quorum sensing. Strikingly, we have evidence revealing inter-kingdom crosstalk between pathogens and their hosts. Thus enabling Salmonella to “eavesdrop” on host communication systems by sensing neuroendocrine stress hormones and using these signals as cues to regulate the expression of genes important in virulence.
The Bacterial Cytoskeleton
Intracellular cytoskeletal protein assemblies with a cell-shape defining function have recently been discovered in bacteria. The bacterial actin-like MreB protein polymerises into helical filamentous structures which span across the cytoplasm and interact with components of the inner membrane. We are elucidating the contribution of the bacterial cytoskeleton to the biology and pathogenicity of Salmonella. We have demonstrated the MreB-based cytoskeleton is important for the expression of flagella and the Salmonella pathogenicity island 1 (SPI-1) Type3 secretion system as well as cell morphology.
Burkholderia cepacia and Inflammatory Host Responses
Burkholderia cepacia is an opportunistic pathogen of cystic fibrosis and lung transplant patients. We are investigating the proinflammatory activities of different genomovars of B.cepacia and correlating these with poor post lung transplant outcome. Our team has demonstrated that the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) chemotype is responsible for this activity. We are also identifying genes involved in the biosynthetic pathway of LPS.
Postdoctoral Research Associates:
Dr Michail Karavolos (MRC)
Dr David Bulmer (MRC)
Dr Sonya Carnell (Italian CF Trust)
Dr Wei Chen (China Scholarship Council)
Present and Recent Graduate PhD Students:
Ms Anne Doble (MRC)
Ms Lubna Kharraz (Ford Foundation of America)
Ms Hannah Spencer (BBSRC)
Mr Rerngwit Boonyom (Royal Thai Government)
Molecular and Cellular Biology of Microbial Pathogens
Infection and Immunity
Director of the FMS Microbiology Containment Level 3 Research Suites
Prospective International students, as well as UK students, with interests in Molecular and Cellular Microbiology are particularly encouraged to apply for doctoral degrees (PhD).
Member of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Infections and Immunity Board College of Experts
Medical Research Council (MRC)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Newcastle Healthcare and NHS Hospitals Special Trustees Charity
Four International Patents Awarded in the areas of Biotechnology, and Vaccine Discovery and Delivery
Undergraduate teaching include the following modules:
BMS2002: Cell Signalling
MIC2025: Bacterial Interactions with Human Hosts and
the Immune System in Human Disease
MIC2027: Parasitic and Viral Diseases (Module Leader)
MIC3043: Research in Medical Microbiology and Immunology
MIC3027: Bacterial Pathogenicity and Disease
MIC3046: Pathogenic Viruses, Protozoa, and Fungi (Module Leader)
CMB3000: Research Projects