Professor Julian Ketley

Professor of bacterial genetics, deputy director MIBTP (Leicester), and CLS director of postgraduate research

School/Department: Genetics and Genome Biology, Department of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 3434



Julian Ketley attended the University of Birmingham to study biological sciences, specialising in microbiology, staying in Birmingham to complete a PhD in the Department of Microbiology, headed by Professor Harry Smith. Under the supervision of Dr John Stephen, this project investigated the production and role of toxins A and B of Clostridium difficile.

After completing the PhD in 1986, Dr Ketley moved to the USA for a postdoctoral position with Professor Jim Kaper at the Center for Vaccine Development, University of Maryland, Baltimore, to work on the construction of the live Vibrio cholerae vaccine strain, CVD103HgR, and Zot toxin.

Having been awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, Dr Ketley returned to the UK, joining the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology in 1990.

Professor Ketley was awarded a personal Chair at the University of Leicester in 2001. 



Professor Ketley’s research interests focus predominantly on the molecular analysis of Campylobacter jejuni with occasional excursions into other bacterial pathogens. Current areas of work include iron transport systems and their regulation, with a focus on a molecular and functional dissection of different uptake systems expressed by campylobacters during intestinal colonisation. This work has extended to the investigation of the role of host stress hormones in facilitating intestinal colonisation.

Arising from his interests in iron uptake and host stress in the context of intestinal colonisation, Professor Ketley has been involved in several projects investigating the avian microbiota with a view to defining the relationship between poultry production microbiota development and susceptibility to campylobacter colonisation.

Professor Ketley has made excursions into investigating the microbiota in animals other than poultry. Such projects include the role of the microbiome in neurodegeneration using a Huntington’s disease model in Drosophila, and the effect of particulate pollutants on both the bee microbiome and human nasopharyngeal colonisation by bacterial pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae.  




SE Salem, TW Maddox, P Antczak, JM Ketley, NJ Williams, DC Archer. Acute changes in the colonic microbiota are associated with large intestinal forms of surgical colic. BMC Veterinary Research (2020) DC BVET-D-19-00626R2.

SE Salem, TW Maddox, A Berg, P Antczak, JM Ketley, NJ Williams, DC Archer. Variation in faecal microbiota in a group of horses managed at pasture over a 12-month period. Scientific Reports. 2018. 8(1), 8510.

BA Elgamoudi, JM Ketley, V Korolik. New approach to distinguishing chemoattractants, chemorepellents and catabolised chemoeffectors for Campylobacter jejuni. Journal of Microbiological Methods. 2018. 146, 83-91.

BA Elgamoudi, JM Ketley. Lighting up my life: a LOV-based fluorescent reporter for Campylobacter jejuni. Research in Microbiology 2018. 169(2), 108-114.

K Haldar, M Bafadhel, K Lau, A Berg, B Kwambana, T Kebadze, M Ramsheh, B Barker, P Haldar, S Johnston, JM Ketley, CE Brightling, MR Barer. Microbiome balance in sputum determined by PCR stratifies COPD exacerbations and shows potential for selective use of antibiotics. PLOS ONE 2017.

L Lacharme-Lora, G Chaloner, R Gilroy, S Humphrey, K Gibbs, S Jopson, E Wright, W Reid, JM Ketley, T Humphrey, N Williams, S Rushton, P Wigley. B lymphocytes play a limited role in clearance of Campylobacter jejuni from the chicken intestinal tract. Scientific Reports 2017. 7.

SJK Hussey, J Purves, N Allcock, VE Fernandes, PS Monks, JM Ketley, PW Andrew, JA Morrissey. Air pollution alters Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae biofilms, antibiotic tolerance and colonisation. Environ Microbiol. 2017.

CD Bayliss, FA Bidmos, A Anjum, VT Manchev, RL Richards, J-P Grossier, KG Wooldridge, JM Ketley, PA Barrow, MA Jones, MV Tretyakov. Phase variable genes of Campylobacter jejuni exhibit high mutation rates and specific mutational patterns but mutability is not the major determinant of population structure during host colonization. Nucl. Acids Res. 2012, 40(13): 5876-5889.

F Xu, X Zeng, RD Haigh, JM Ketley, J Lin. Identification and characterization of a new ferric enterobactin receptor, CfrB, in Campylobacter. J Bacteriol 2010, 192(17):4425-4435.

LE Hartley-Tassell, LK Shewell, CJ Day, JC Wilson, R Sandhu, JM Ketley, V Korolik. Identification and characterization of the aspartate chemosensory receptor of Campylobacter jejuni. Mol Microbiol 2010, 75(3):710-730.



Professor Ketley is not currently accepting applications for PhD supervision.


Professor Ketley teaches the following:

  • BS1040 The Cell
  • BS1030 The Molecules of Life
  • BS2009 Genomes
  • BS2030 Principles of Microbiology
  • BS3011 Microbial Pathogenesis and genomics
  • MSc courses in Infection and Immunity /Chronic Disease and Immunity

Press and media

Campylobacter infection and PhD training.


  • BSc (Hons) (First Class), University of Birmingham 
  • PhD (Microbiology), University of Birmingham
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology
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