Focused on investigating the human microbiota and its role in health and disease; examining the aetiology, pathogenesis and control of diseases caused by micro-organisms as well as the ecology of the indigenous microbiota and its contribution to health. Our current research includes analysis of antibiotic resistance, bacterial ecology, biofilms, development of novel antimicrobial therapies, bacterial genetics and bacterial virulence.
The activities of the department are one of the prime drivers of bacteriologically-based research within UCL. Significant contributions to the scientific community have been made by the department, as respected research leaders, advancing knowledge by publication of reviews and research findings in high-impact journals.
Dr Sean Nair PhD BSc Hons.
Reader and Head of Department
Areas of interest: (i) Interactions of bacteria with host cells. Focusing on the mechanisms by which Superbugs (e.g. staphylococci/MRSA, and enterococci/VRE) cause disease. (ii) Development of novel antimicrobial strategies to combat infections. The use of antisense/aptamer technologies, development of light-activated antimicrobial agents and identification of bacterial genes coding for potential novel therapeutic targets. Find out more
Recent paper: Liu C, Zhou Y, Wang L, Han L, Lei J, Ishaq HM, Nair SP, Xu J. (2016) Photodynamic inactivation of Klebsiella pneumoniae biofilms and planktonic cells by 5-aminolevulinic acid and 5-aminolevulinic acid methyl ester. Lasers Med Sci. 2016 Feb 17. DOI: 10.1007/s10103-016-1891-1016-1891-1. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10103-016-1891-1
Dr Elaine Allan BSc (Hons), PhD
Senior Lecturer in Molecular Microbiology
Areas of interest: Molecular basis of bacterial virulence, Environmental signal transduction, Biofilm formation, exopolymeric matrix composition and regulation, Metagenomics for natural product discovery, New antibacterial approaches. Find out more
Recent paper: Waheed Jowiya, Haitham A. Hussain, Sean P. Nair, Sohaib Sadiq, Lisa K. Williams, Emma K. Trantham, Holly Stephenson, Brendan W. Wren, Mona Bajaj-Elliott, Tristan A. Cogan, Andrew P. Laws, JIm Wade, Nick Dorrell, Elaine Allan. 2015. Pancreatic amylase is an environmental signal for regulation of biofilm formation and host interaction in Campylobacter jejuni. Infect. Immun. 83:4884-95.
Professor Peter Mullany BSc, PhD
Professor Microbial Diseases
Areas of interest: Transfer of genes between bacteria; including the transfer of antibiotic resistance genes. The molecular biology of the important human pathogen Clostridium difficile. Find out more
Recent paper: Arivaradarajan P, Warburton PJ, Paramasamy G, Nair SP, Allan E, Mullany P. Identification of an antibacterial protein by functional screening of a human oral metagenomic library. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2016 Jan;363(1).
Dr Adam P. Roberts BSc, PhD, FHEA, MRSB
Senior Lecturer in Molecular Microbiology
My group investigates various aspects of antibiotic resistance, pathogenicity and horizontal gene transfer among bacteria. Additionally I have projects aimed at discovering new antibiotic and anti-biofilm compounds. Find out more
Recent paper: van Eijk, E., Anvar, S. Y., Browne, H. P., Leung, W. Y., Frank, J., Schmitz, A. M., . . . Smits, W. K. (2015). Complete genome sequence of the Clostridium difficile laboratory strain 630 Delta erm reveals differences from strain 630, including translocation of the mobile element CTn5. BMC GENOMICS, 16, ARTN 31. doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1252-7015-1252-7
Dr Andrew Mark Smith BSc (Hons), PhD,
Senior Lecturer in Innate Immunity
Areas of intested: Andrew Smith’s research is focused on understanding the innate immune response within healthy and diseased tissue. He has ongoing collaborative projects investigating the role the innate immune system plays in Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, orofacial granulomatosis, lichen planus and mucosal inflammation. Find out more
Recent paper: Markus Tschurtschenthaler, Timon E. Adolph, Jonathan W. Ashcroft, Lukas Niederreiter, Richa Bharti, Svetlana Saveljeva, Joya Bhattacharyya, Magdalena B. Flak, David Q. Shih, Gwenny M. Fuhler, Miles Parkes, Kenji Kohno, Takao Iwawaki, C. Janneke van der Woude, Heather P. Harding, Andrew M. Smith, Maikel P. Peppelenbosch, Stephan R. Targan, David Ron, Philip Rosenstiel, Richard S. Blumberg, and Arthur Kaser Defective ATG16L1-mediated removal of IRE1α drives Crohn’s disease–like ileitis J. Exp. Med. Published online January 12, 2017, 10.1084/jem.20160791
Professor David Spratt BSc, PhD
Professor of Microbial Ecology and Education, Faculty Graduate Tutor
Areas of Interest: Human microbial communities in health and disease, modelling biofilms to understand microbial ecology, biofilms associated with failed implants. Find out more
Recent paper: Sousa V, Nibali L, Spratt D, Dopico J, Mardas N, Petrie A, Donos N. Peri-implant and periodontal microbiome diversity in aggressive periodontitis patients: a pilot study. Clin Oral Implants Res. 2016 May 11. doi: 10.1111/clr.12834.
Microbial Diseases has state-of-the-art laboratories for bacterial and genetic modification work that contain class I and class II biological safety cabinets and anaerobic chambers. There are large cold rooms for protein purification work and warm rooms for aerobic bacterial culture, and dedicated laboratories for microscopy (light and fluorescent), molecular biology (sample preparation robot, PCR and QPCR machines), mammalian tissue culture work, and biofilm work (apparatus for fermentation and for numerous biofilm models.
- Current PhD projects
We encourage PhD candidates to propose projects that interest them and the below projects are only indicative of our areas of research.
1. Antibiotic resistance and the development of novel antimicrobial therapies
- Macrolide resistance in the oral cavity: mechanisms and transfer Supervisor: Dr Elaine Allan
- Signal transduction in bacterial virulence Supervisor: Dr Elaine Allan
- Characterisation of mobile genetic elements: transposons, plasmids, conjugation, transposition, transfer Supervisor: Dr Adam Roberts
- Identification of novel therapeutic targets in bacteria associated with healthcare infections such as Staphylococcus aureus and 'superbugs': Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, enterococcus, VRE, virulence Supervisor: Dr Sean Nair
- Development of novel antimicrobial agents and identification of antimicrobial agents produced by microorganisms: novel antimicrobials, metagenomics, antimicrobial peptides, bacteriocins Supervisor: Dr Sean Nair
- Targeted photodynamic therapy for bacterial infections photosensitizers, singlet oxygen, targeting molecules, MRSA, staphylococcus Supervisor: Dr Sean Nair
- Novel approaches to understanding how the important nosocomial pathogen Clostridium difficile causes disease: Clostridium difficile, virulence, antimicrobial associated disease Supervisor: Dr Peter Mullany
- A synthetic biology approach to the development of phage therapy to bacterial diseases phage: oral microbiota, caries Supervisors: Dr Peter Mullany / Susan Parekh / Dr Paul Ashley
- Exploring gene transfer in the whole oral microbiota: metagenomics, oral microbiota, mobile genetic elements Supervisor: Dr Peter Mullany
- Understanding antibiotic resistance in human associated bacteria: antibiotic resistance, resistance genes, mechanism of action, metagenomics Supervisor: Dr Adam Roberts
- Identification of natural antimicrobial agents for the treatment of periodontal diseases: periodontal pathogens, natural antimicrobials Supervisor: Dr Sean Nair
- Virulence factor discovery in Clostridium difficile: Clostridium difficile, virulence factor, genetics Supervisor: Dr Adam Roberts
2. Biofilms and the microbiome
- Biofilm disruption activities in natural environments Supervisor: Dr Elaine Allan
- Metagenomics for natural product discovery Supervisor: Dr Elaine Allan
- Development of new strategies for treating implant infections: biofilms, enterococci, periodontal pathogens, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis Supervisor: Dr Sean Nair
- Molecular mechanisms of biofilm formation: Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, VRE Supervisor: Dr Sean Nair
- Synthetic biology to develop agents for disrupting medically important biofilms: molecular breeding, domain shuffling, enzymes Supervisor: Dr Sean Nair
- Understanding biofilm regulation in Campylobacter jejuni: biofilms, signalling, virulence Supervisor: Dr Elaine Allan
- Constant depth film fermentor models of ginigivitis and periodontitis: gingivitis, periodontitis, biofilms Supervisor: Professor David Spratt
- Mucosal immune response in health and disease innate: adaptive, immunity, inflammation, macrophage, Toll-like receptors Supervisor: Dr Andrew Smith
- Transcriptomic analysis of oral inflammatory disease: transcriptomics, inflammation, human disease, next generation sequencing, bioinformatics Supervisor: Dr Andrew Smith
- The human microbiome in health and Disease: metagenomics, functional metagenomics, host-microbe interactions. Supervisors: Dr Sean Nair, Professor David Spratt