Dr David Weinkove and Professor Barry Campbell
My journey into science was not a conventional one. I am a mature graduate with a diverse and varied career history having worked all over the world prior to committing to a career in science. My academic journey began with a BSc (Hons) in Physiological Science, giving me a strong foundation in understanding the mechanisms involved in the physiological and metabolic processes required to take food from the plate to the cell, as well as how these pathways can lead to disease. This was followed by an MSc in Nutritional Science consolidating my knowledge prior to starting my PhD. I am interested in all areas of nutrition and how it is able to influence health and performance however, I have a particular interest in the gut microbiota-host relationship which forms the primary area of my research. It is a challenging and exciting area still in its research infancy providing a discovery hot bed for potential pathways in disease prevention and tailored therapeutics, I am honoured to be involved in exploring and contributing to pioneering new research in this field.
Targeting Bacterial Folate Synthesis: A Potential Route to Improve Health and Slow Ageing
The gut microbiota is essential for host nutrition but it may also influence ageing. We hypothesise that low level toxicity of gut bacteria accelerates ageing over time without impeding host fitness. Due to the inaccessibility and intricacy of the human gut microbiota the nematode worm C. elegans provides a simplified, functional model of the gut microbiota-host system. We investigate bacterial interactions with the host whereby the growth media (diet), worm (host) and bacteria (microbiota) are specifically and easily manipulated to control variables. We have shown that inhibition of E. coli folate synthesis in C. elegans model increases host lifespan independently of host folate status with no adverse effect to bacterial growth or host health. Bacteria require folates for many biosynthetic pathways that may produce a mild, chronic toxicity as a product of bacterial survival and proliferation mechanisms. We are testing whether these interventions might assist in a mammalian models of inflammatory bowel diseases with Professor Barry Campbell in Liverpool. In addition, we are using genetics of both E. coli and C. elegans to understand the mechanism of toxicity so that we further translate our findings to human health.