Research

Whole-organism biology of bacterial pathogens

Bacterial diseases remain major ongoing threats to human health, with the evolution and spread of resistance to antimicrobial agents highlighting the challenge that pathogenic bacteria still present. Our research endeavours to understand bacterial disease as a biological process: an interaction between the bacterium and its host or hosts. We seek to translate the insights gained into practical applications in the improvement of public health by interventions such as vaccination and food safety measures.
We take an explicitly ecological and evolutionary approach that seeks to integrate and exploit the microbiological insights that have been gained from the major technical and conceptual advances in microbiology:

  • Germ theory and pure culture techniques;
  • Immunological and biochemical insights obtained by in vitro and in vivo analyses;
  • Molecular genetics and sequencing, including populaiton studies and epidemiology.

A principal goal is to combine diverse sources of information to link genotype, including whole genome sequences, with phenotype. While our research mostly focuses on two genera of pathogenic bacteria, Neisseria and Camplyobacter, the approaches that we have developed are generalisable and have been applied to a wide range of bacteria including non-pathogens, by ourselves and others.