BSc (Hons) University of Warwick, 1993
MSc University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1994
PhD University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1999
Our indigenous gut microbiota, composed of ~100 trillion mainly bacterial cells, have co-evolved with us and play an essential role in maintaining normal health and nutrition. Bacterial survival in the gut is dependent on the ability of members of this community to sense and respond rapidly to changes in their dynamic nutrient environment. The major nutrient source for microbes in the distal intestine are plant- and animal-derived polysaccharides from our diets, as the human genome does not encode the enzymes necessary to degrade many of these complex macromolecules.
In my lab we use a range of biochemical, genetic and structural techniques to study the molecular mechanisms utilised by our resident gut bacteria to recognise, acquire and degrade complex glycans. The results of this research have applications in a number of areas including the development of biofuels derived from plant cell wall material and in personalised nutrition approaches to optimise microbiota function for the benefit of human health.
2005-2010 RCUK Academic Fellowship
2008-2011 BBSRC New Investigator Award: Bacterial Carbohydrate Sensing
2008-2012 EU FP7 Large Scale Integrating Project: Renewall
2009-2012 BBSRC Research Grant: Sustainable Bioenergy Centre with Cambridge University
2009-2014 BBSRC Research Grant: Sustainable Bioenergy Centre with Nottingham University