Dr Gary Sharples and Professor Nigel Robinson
While completing a BSc in Biomedical Sciences at Durham University, I discovered a passion for microbiology. I was fascinated by learning about the means through which pathogenic bacteria can cause disease and the methods that have been developed to help us fight back. As antibiotic resistance becomes more widespread amongst pathogenic bacteria, the need for alternative antimicrobials becomes increasingly important in order to treat even the most simple of infections. Although I find pushing the boundaries of our current knowledge of bacteria metal homeostasis fascinating, I am most passionate about contributing to the discovery and development of novel antimicrobial compounds which could be used to treat patients with bacterial infections which are resistant to our existing antibiotics.
I had the enormous privilege of attending the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) conference on Trace Elements in Biology and Medicine in Tahoe City, California in June.
Exploiting a novel chelant database to probe cellular metal-handling
My project focuses on investigation of the antimicrobial properties of a variety of chelating agents. These chelants bind to metal ions to limit their bioavailability, thereby mimicking the natural process of nutritional immunity and starving bacteria of essential metals. The mechanisms of action through which these chelants sequester these metals, including their precise location within the bacterial cell and their effects on gene expression are as yet unknown. These investigations should also reveal more about the metal homeostasis systems of various bacterial species and give insight into their modes of metal handling. This project focuses particularly on Pseudomonas aeruginosa which has proven to present eradication problems with many current antibiotics. This work is being carried out in collaboration with Procter & Gamble (P&G), who are seeking to find effective novel antimicrobials with limited detrimental environmental impact.