Key Research Interests
- Evolution of bacterial drug resistance mechanisms
- Transmission of drug resistance in bacterial populations
- Population dynamics of bacterial pathogens
The evolution and spread of antibiotic resistance
Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics through a number of different mechanisms. These include intrinsic mechanism that all members of the bacterial species posses and that they switch on or ‘ramp up’ when exposed to antibiotics, and mechanisms that the bacteria acquire from external sources that can then be exchanged between bacteria.
My work centres on understanding which mechanisms bacteria are using to become resistant to antibiotics, and how these are evolving and being transferred in bacterial populations. An example of current work is investigating the effect of non-antibiotic drugs, such as cancer chemotherapies, on promoting antibiotic resistance. Many drugs used in healthcare coincidently have antibacterial properties, and therefore bacteria develop resistance against these. However, in doing so, some bacteria can become more resistant to antibiotics at the same time, even without having been exposed to any antibiotics. This ‘cross-resistance’, where exposure to one drug (e.g. a cancer chemotherapy) causes resistance to a different drug (e.g. an antibiotic) is not well understood despite its potential to have a major impact on the evolution and spread of antibiotic resistance. By understanding how different drugs cause cross-resistance to antibiotics we will gain a more holistic view of antibiotic resistance that can be exploited in the design and development of new drugs, and in the management and use of existing drugs.