Leicester scientist to feature in upcoming BBC programme on antimicrobial resistance

Professor Martha Clokie (pictured) from our Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation will be discussing antimicrobial resistance on BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’ with presenters Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince on Monday 22 January at 12:15PM.

The programme covers the need for antimicrobials and will feature Professor Clokie discussing bacteriophages, viruses that target and kill bacteria.

Professor Clokie delves into the biology and ecology of bacteriophages and how and where they are found in nature, explaining her research on phages that kill the gut bacterium Clostridium difficile, or Cdiff.

She also highlights how these natural enemies of bacteria can be understood and exploited to kill their bacterial hosts and why they haven’t been taken up despite the fact they were discovered before antibiotics and kill bacteria so effectively.

Professor Clokie said: “It is an exciting time to be doing this work as the pressing need for new antimicrobials means that there is increased engagement with the medical profession with whom phage biologists can work to address real needs.”

The format of the programme is that Brian Cox and Robin Ince and a guest comedian take a subject of interest – in this case antimicrobial resistance – and then quiz two scientists. In this episode Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, explains how we currently have a major problem worldwide with antimicrobial resistance and how if we ignore it, it will change the shape of modern medicine - for example, routine operations and cancer treatment could be seriously compromised. She spoke about the urgent need for novel and complimentary antimicrobials in order to protect antibiotics and the need for better antibiotic stewardship.

The guest comedian was Chris Addison, who will be familiar to fans of programmes The Thick of It, and Mock the Week.

“Chris was totally brilliant and funny and asked really good questions,” Martha said. “I had no idea of what they were going to ask this is part of the format for the show and we don’t see the script in advance!  It was so much fun to do!”

Watch a video with Professor Martha Clokie discussing bacteriophages here: