Dr Malcom Horsburgh and Dr Alistair Darby
I graduated from the University of Liverpool with both a BSc (Hons) in Microbiology and a MRes in Advanced Biological Sciences (Microbiology). I am now undertaking a four-year PhD in the Horsburgh lab group, in collaboration with Unilever Plc.
My current research interests are focused around the use of Next-Generation Sequence technologies to provide an insight into the human skin microbiome. In the first year of my PhD I attended the North East Postgraduate Conference and the Staphylococcus GBI Conference.
Dissection of the skin microbiome: insights for biotechnological exploitation
Staphylococcus species are common residents of human and animal skin and in some locations, form a major part of the microbiome. The factors that select for the frequency of certain species in different niches are poorly understood and the mechanisms that structure each community remain to be determined. An understanding of these factors will enable novel personal care products to be developed that alter the presence or frequency of skin species associated with undesirable properties, such as odor or dermatitis.
My project aims to exploit new ways of working and data-driven biology to examine the phenotype of staphylococcal species associated with undesirable properties. Using comparative genomics and transcriptomics with other technologies the aim is to generate insights into pathways that can be targeted to manipulate colonisation and persistence of certain species of staphylococci. A further focus will be to investigate the role of peptidoglycan modifying enzymes and their regulation with respect to resistance of staphylococcal interactions with other species. My PhD also involves an industrial placement with Unilever Plc.