Centre for Synthetic Biology and the Bioeconomy

Staff Profile

Dr Phillip Aldridge

Senior Lecturer



BSc. - Leicester 1993
PhD. - Leicester and Heidelberg (Germany) 1998

Previous Positions

1996 to 2000 Division of Mol. Microbiology, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Basel, Switerland
2000 to 2003 Dept. of Microbiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA


Society for General Microbiology
Society for Applied Microbiology


1) Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common bacterial infection with symptoms that include urinary frequency, urgency to void, dysuria and abdominal pain. At present it is assumed that the relationship between an individual’s susceptibility and bacterial virulence determines the balance between tolerance of invading pathogens and the mounting of an immune response, which in turn dictates the course of infection and subsequent recurrence. The lack of specific genomic and phenotypic information makes it challenging to differentiate between uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) and asymptomatic bacteriuria (ABU) E. coli strains. One outcome is that ABU patients, particularly the elderly, are often given antibiotics without justification due to clinical uncertainty.

This work on UTIs is a collaborative project between myself, a further university-based academic, a urological consultant surgeon and a uro-gynaecological consultant. Our partnership objectives focus on an unmet need to generate robust data on the clinical efficacy and underlying scientific mechanisms of antibiotic and non-antibiotic preventive interventions for UTIs directly in line with global antibiotic stewardship initiatives. We have developed a robust research framework integrating basic scientific research into clinical studies and trials to inform clinical decisions, impact antibiotic stewardship and importantly, improve patient well-being.

The team’s research strategy aims to:

  1. Utilise clinical studies and patient material to interrogate and understand recurrent UTI;
  2. Combine basic and clinical approaches for the benefit of patients suffering recurrent UTI;
  3. Educate and attract young scientists and clinicians to the study of urology and UTI.

2) The bacterial flagellum

The flagellum is a unique molecular machine driving bacterial movement through liquid environments. Bacteria are propelled forward by rotation of an external long whip-like flagellar filament. Rotation of the filament is achieved via the action of a universal joint known as the hook and a basal motor anchored into the bacterial cell envelope. The flagellar filament is a major antigen recognized by hosts during bacterial infections. A significant number of bacterial species encode multiple copies of the filament building block - flagellin. A complex regulatory network controls the assembly of the flagellum and the number per cell, which varies between different species.

Our research focuses on the fundamental understanding of how bacteria regulate flagellar assembly, how a cell coordinates the assembly of unrelated molecular machines and how hosts recognise this important antigen. We have studied how bacterial species such as the pathogen Salmonella enterica maintain a discrete number of flagellar per cell during cell growth and division. We complement our study on flagellar abundance with research to understanding how a filament is assembled from multiple flagellins, a trait maintained by many bacterial species. Our in-depth knowledge of flagellar assembly and its regulation allow us to investigate the interaction of the host innate immune system during UTIs.



My expertise utilise bacterial genetics to study fundamental aspects of the bacterial life cycle and host-microbe interactions. My laboratory uses, bacterial genetics, protein biochemistry, structural biology, bioinformatics and microscopic techniques to validate our genetic findings.

I also have a strong background in bacterial pathogenesis of both Animal and Plant Hosts. During my career I have gained valuable experience working with a range of bacterial pathogens.


Postgraduate Supervision

A wide range of projects are available.



Undergraduate Teaching

BMS3025 - Module Leader

CMB3000 - Project Supervisor

Postgraduate Teaching

MMB8048 - Module Leader

MMB8098 - Deputy Module Leader

PhD. Supervisor for 1 student