Research Centres

People

Opportunities to join the centre 

We welcome folks to train, study, work, or collaborate with us. If you are interested, please contact us at centreforphageresearch@leicester.ac.uk.

PhD fellowships are available every year through the MiBTP, BRC, and AIM doctoral training centres after a selection process.

Students interested in self-funded PhD projects should contact the principal investigator that they want to collaborate with to discuss/develop their projects.

Principal investigators and academics

Dr Martha R.J. Clokie (Director)

Martha ClokieProfessor of Microbiology 

Professor Martha Clokie is a Professor of Microbiology at the University of Leicester and the director of the UK’s newly founded Centre for Phage Research. Her research investigates the identification and development of bacteriophages that kill human and animal pathogens in an effort to develop new antimicrobials. She encompasses all aspects of phage therapy development – from unravelling fundamental biology to product development, and commercialization. Much of her research employs genomic, structural, bioinformatic and AI approaches to identify key traits associated with phage efficacy in clearing infections and currently she is developing phages for major gut pathogens including clostridial and Salmonella species, respiratory pathogens and for antibiotic-resistant bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. Her work is regularly and recently featured on the BBC, for example the Life Scientific the iconic Infinite Monkey Cage’, and the Today Programme.

Dr Andrew Millard (Co-director)

Associate Professor in Bacteriophage Bioinformatics

Dr Millard studied at the University of Plymouth gaining a degree in Micro and Cell Biology before moving to the University of Warwick to complete a PhD in the molecular biology of marine cyanophages, leading the genome sequencing of the marine cyanophage S-PM2. This was followed by postdoctoral positions with Professor N Mann and Professor D Scanlan in the area of marine microbiology.

In 2013 Dr Millard moved from the School of Life Sciences to Warwick Medical School to take up a position as a senior research fellow and establish a group in the newly formed Microbiology and Infection Unit. Here Dr Millard set up the server infrastructure for the high-throughput analysis of bacterial genomes.

In 2017 Dr Millard moved to Leicester to take up a position as a lecturer in bacteriophage bioinformatics. Throughout Dr Millard’s career his research has focused on the interaction of bacteriophages.

Key publications 

  • Cook R, Hooton S, Trivedi U, King L, Dodd CER, Hobman JL, Stekel DJ, Jones MA, Millard AD (2021) Hybrid assembly of an agricultural slurry virome reveals a diverse and stable community with the potential to alter the metabolism and virulence of veterinary pathogens. Microbiome 9:65
  • Muscatt G, Hilton S, Raguideau S, Teakle G, Lidbury IDEA, Wellington EMH, Quince C, Millard A, Bending GD, Jameson E (2022) Crop management shapes the diversity and activity of DNA and RNA viruses in the rhizosphere. Microbiome 10:181
  • Cook R, Brown N, Redgwell T, Rihtman B, Barnes M, Clokie M, Stekel DJ, Hobman J, Jones MA, Millard A (2021) INfrastructure for a PHAge REference Database: Identification of large-scale biases in the current collection of cultured phage genomes. PHAGE
  • Michniewski S, Rihtman B, Cook R, Jones MA, Wilson WH, Scanlan DJ, Millard A (2021) A new family of “megaphages” abundant in the marine environment. ISME Communications 1:1–4

Dr Edouard (Ed) Galyov

Reader (Associate Professor)

Dr Galyov received his PhD in Molecular Biology from the Institute of Molecular Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow, Russia) in 1990. From 1991 to 1995 he was a postdoctoral scientist at the Umeå University (Umeå, Sweden) studying virulence factors of Yersinia. From 1995 to 2007 Dr Galyov worked at the BBSRC Institute for Animal Health (Compton, UK) as a Senior, then Principal Research Scientist, leading a group studying virulence factors of Salmonella and Burkholderia. His current research is focused on the discovery of novel bacteriophages targeting bacteria relevant to human and animal health, development of novel methods to study phages, studies of phage biology and phage-bacteria interactions and development of phages as novel anti-bacterial agents.

Dr Melissa Haines

NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer in Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology, SpR Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology

Prior to medical training, Dr Haines completed an undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, which was immediately followed by a PhD in Microbiology at the University of Leicester concluding in 2009. Her PhD focused on genomic/pathogenicity islands within E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

In 2010, Dr Haines commenced medical school at Warwick University and began working as an NHS doctor in 2014. During her medical training she was successful in securing a position as an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow at the University of Leicester, which commenced in 2016. Her research interest centres around the use of phage therapy to treat antimicrobial-resistant bacterial infections. Currently, she leads the development of a potentially therapeutic phage cocktail against ESBL-producing urinary clinical isolates of E. coli and Klebsiella.

Dr Spyridon Megremis

Lecturer in Phage Biology

Dr Megremis received an Honours in Research in Molecular Genetics from the University of Dundee (UK), and subsequently completed his PhD in Genetic Medicine from the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA-Greece). During his first post-doctoral placement in the department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (NKUA, Professor Nikolaos G Papadopoulos), he transitioned into the area of molecular virology and virus-host interactions studying the role of common cold viruses in chronic lung diseases. In 2014 he moved into the University of Manchester (UoM-UK, Professor Nikolaos G Papadopoulos amd Professor David L Robinson) to primarily investigate the role of the respiratory virome in asthma using metagenomics and systems approaches, and secondary to investigate the antibody repertoires in patients with autoimmune diseases (UoM-UK, Dr Janine Lamb). His work provided novel evidence supporting the role of the airway virome as an ecological system in the presence, severity and activity of asthma during periods of stable disease (asymptomatic/non-infectious). These data led to the EU-funded HORIZON 2020 FET programme “CURE”, the first to explore phage therapy strategies in patients with asthma with a focus on temporal patterns of airway microbiomes.

In December 2022, Dr Megremis joined the University of Leicester and the Centre for Phage Research as a Lecturer in Phage Biology. His research focuses on the airway metagenome/microbiome and its ecology, the use of phage products for the management of complex ecosystems in the lung, and the development of virome- and microbiome-based prediction models of lung disease. He has a keen interest on the effect of the microbial and viral species antigenic variability in shaping the antigenic state of patients with chronic lung diseases. His research is based on observational (cohort studies), experimental (in vitro systems) and computational approaches using technical and theoretical frameworks from multiple disciplines.

Key publications

  • Mageiros L, Megremis S, Papadopoulos NG. The virome in allergy and asthma: A nascent, ineffable player. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2023 Sep 29:S0091-6749(23)01203-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2023.09.022. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37778473
  • Rovira Rubió J, Megremis S, Pasioti M, Lakoumentas J, Constantinides B, Xepapadaki P, Bachert C, Finotto S, Jartti T, Andreakos E, Stanic B, Akdis CA, Akdis M, Papadopoulos NG. Respiratory virome profiles reflect antiviral immune responses. Allergy. 2023 May;78(5):1258-1268. doi: 10.1111/all.15634. Epub 2023 Jan 17. PMID: 36595290
  • Megremis S, Constantinides B, Xepapadaki P, Yap CF, Sotiropoulos AG, Bachert C, Finotto S, Jartti T, Tapinos A, Vuorinen T, Andreakos E, Robertson DL, Papadopoulos NG. Respiratory eukaryotic virome expansion and bacteriophage deficiency characterize childhood asthma. Sci Rep. 2023 May 23;13(1):8319. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-34730-7. PMID: 37221274; PMCID: PMC10205716
  • Tzani-Tzanopoulou P, Skliros D, Megremis S, Xepapadaki P, Andreakos E, Chanishvili N, Flemetakis E, Kaltsas G, Taka S, Lebessi E, Doudoulakakis A, Papadopoulos NG. Interactions of Bacteriophages and Bacteria at the Airway Mucosa: New Insights Into the Pathophysiology of Asthma. Front Allergy. 2021 Jan 26;1:617240. doi: 10.3389/falgy.2020.617240
  • Makalatia K, Kakabadze E, Bakuradze N, Grdzelishvili N, Stamp B, Herman E, Tapinos A, Coffey A, Lee D, Papadopoulos NG, Robertson DL, Chanishvili N, Megremis S. Investigation of Salmonella Phage-Bacteria Infection Profiles: Network Structure Reveals a Gradient of Target-Range from Generalist to Specialist Phage Clones in Nested Subsets. Viruses. 2021 Jun 28;13(7):1261. doi: 10.3390/v13071261. PMID: 34203492; PMCID: PMC8310288.
  • Megremis S, Walker TDJ, He X, O'Sullivan J, Ollier WER, Chinoy H, Pendleton N, Payton A, Hampson L, Hampson I, Lamb JA. Analysis of human total antibody repertoires in TIF1γ autoantibody positive dermatomyositis. Commun Biol. 2021 Mar 26;4(1):419. doi: 10.1038/s42003-021-01932-6. PMID: 33772100; PMCID: PMC7997983

Administration and research support

Administration support

Jill Theaker

Research technical support

Mischa Haria, MSc

I have a Masters in Medical Biochemistry from Swansea University. After graduating I was a Research Technician for the BEACON group within the Department of Microbiology at Swansea University. My research project consisted of collaborating with a group from Brazil to investigate antifungal resistance in Asian Soybean Rust and using CRISPR to understand how mutations within the Succinate Dehydrogenase complex resulted in resistance to chemical pesticides. The technician side of my role involved maintaining stocks and media as well as ensuring the laboratory was within working order.

I’m a recent addition to the Department of Genetic and Genome Biology and the Centre of Phage Research, as a Departmental Technician. I am responsible for the everyday running of the laboratory and will be involved in assisting research projects within the group.

Post-doctoral research scientists

Dr Steve Hooton

Throughout my career I have worked mainly on the application of phage therapeutics to target multidrug resistant pathogens in the food chain. Examining the farm-to-fork route of potential phage interventions has produced some important findings. From the development of a phage cocktail to target Salmonella spp. circulating in UK pigs (University of Nottingham 2009-2013), through to understanding phage/host dynamics of Campylobacter jejuni in poultry (University of Nottingham, 2014-2015) it is apparent that phages offer an alternative to traditional antimicrobial therapies. Other research involves monitoring antimicrobial resistance in manures and slurries derived from dairy production (University of Nottingham, 2017-2020). Currently my research at LCPR (2020-present) involves the application of machine-based learning to improve phage cocktail design for controlling Salmonella in pigs based on genetic data and high throughput phenotypic screening assays.

Dr Ying Jia

Ying Jia, completed her BSc and MSc Degrees in Microbiology from Nankai University in P.R.China and obtained her PhD in Molecular Microbiology from the University of Warwick. Before joining the research group at Leicester, she accumulated five years of experience working in a university spinout and a London-based pharmaceutical company. Her skill set is comprehensive, encompassing sample preparation (mainly blood-based samples), qPCR experimentation, troubleshooting, and the writing of GLP and SOP.

Aiming to overcome the current bottleneck of low sensitivity in laboratory diagnosis for Lyme disease and co-infections, the team has adopted a novel diagnostic approach targeting bacteriophages in blood samples to detect Lyme disease-causing bacteria. Pre-clinical study has showcased promising results (doi:10.3389/fmicb.2021.651217). With further development, this innovative method of detecting bacterial infections could be extended to other tick-borne diseases, such as Relapsing Fever, Bartonellosis, etc.

Dr Slawomir Michniewski

Currently, I am a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Leicester. I have a PhD in Biological Sciences (University of Warwick), MSc in Molecular Biology (Coventry University) and MScEng in Biotechnology with Pharmaceutical Biotechnology specialisation (Gdansk University of Technology). I have experience in working with marine and human CL2 organisms (Vibrios, Enterobacteriaceae) and their phages, genetic engineering and molecular diagnostics. Finally, I can use command line-interface to perform and automate bioinformatic analyses on large datasets (tens of thousands of genomic sequences).

I am a member of a group working on Genomic epidemiology and Phage-based Prevention of salmon associated Pasteurella (GP3) project. We are aiming to develop a phage therapy product against Pasteurella spp. infections in Atlantic salmon farms. My part of the project is mostly focused on isolating environmental phages against Pasteurella spp. and bioinformatic analyses of the host and its phages and prophages.

Dr Saroa Rashid

I obtained my BSc and MSc degrees in Biology from Salahuddin University in Iraq. Prior to pursuing my PhD, I spent five years teaching practical genetics and molecular biology to undergraduate students in the Biology department at the College of Science at Salahaddin University in Erbil, Iraq. During my PhD studies, I focused on isolating and characterising Clostridium difficile from the environment, as well as isolating a selection of phages with potential therapeutic applications.

Currently, I am working as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the phage group. My project involves isolating viruses that infect methanogenic archaea strains from rumen samples. Methanogenic archaea play a significant role in controlling global climate by releasing large amounts of methane into the atmosphere.

Dr Hannah Sampson

Currently, I am a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Leicester. As a microbial ecologist, I am interested in how microbes interact with each other and their environment and how microbial communities evolve and change over time. I studied my undergraduate in Biological Sciences at the University of Reading, where I first cultured my interest for all things microbial. For my PhD, at the University of Leicester, I studied the impact of air pollution on bees and their gut microbiome. As a postdoc, I have researched the impact of air pollutants on bacterial colonisation and antibiotic resistance and studied how the acquisition of copper hyper-resistance promotes bacterial survival in vivo.

I am currently working in the Centre for Phage Research, investigating treatments for agricultural infections using bacteriophage and flying insects. Infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK), commonly known as pink eye, is the most common eye disease in cattle. The current treatment for IBK is via antibiotic medication, however, the difficulty of handling cattle limits the opportunity for treating infected animals and this has a considerable negative impact on their welfare. Moraxella bovis, the causative agent of IBK is transmitted by the face fly, Musca autumnalis. In collaboration with Carus, my project involves isolating and characterising phages that are active against Moraxella bovis as well as developing and testing the therapeutic potential of phage cocktails for use in the agricultural industry.

Dr Jinyu Shan

Jinyu Shan holds the position as a Research Fellow at the University of Leicester and Chief Scientific Officer at Phelix Research and Development, alongside his pivotal role as Product Technical Manager at Youseq, a renowned company specialising in the production of qPCR kits over 400 unique bacterial, viral, and protozoan infections. Jinyu's academic journey began with a BSc from Shandong University, progressed with an MSc in Life Sciences from Nankai University, and culminated in a PhD in Molecular Microbiology from the University of Warwick. This robust educational background has cultivated his extensive knowledge in molecular diagnostics, covering the spectrum from design and implementation to commercialization. His professional journey is marked by significant roles across various organisations, including Chief Scientist at Marker Diagnostics, Associate Principal Scientist at the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory, and Deputy Lab Manager at Cignpost Diagnostics. In these capacities, he has garnered invaluable insights into microbiology, cell biology, molecular diagnostics, and assay development within regulated frameworks. A notable achievement in his career is his role as the principal inventor of a diagnostic patent for Lyme disease. Jinyu has skilfully navigated collaborations bridging academia and industry, leading initiatives in patent filings and licensing agreements. His research interests are diverse, with a particular emphasis on exploring the therapeutic and diagnostic capabilities of bacteriophages, their intricate interactions with human cells, and the meticulous application of Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) and Quality Management System (QMS). His significant contributions to the scientific community have not gone unnoticed; he has served as a judge for the LymeX diagnostics prize competition and continues to be a prominent figure in numerous professional associations and conferences.

Jinyu Shan, aims to pioneer advancements in Lyme diagnostics. Leveraging his decade-long specialisation in the field and his position as the principal inventor of a diagnostic patent for Lyme disease, Jinyu plans to navigate the intersection of academic research and commercial application. His project will focus on exploring the therapeutic and diagnostic potential of bacteriophages and the implementation of Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) and Quality Management System (QMS).

Dr Anisha Thanki

I graduated from Kings College London, UK with a degree in Pharmacology after which I completed my MSc in Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at University of Leicester. I pursued a PhD at Loughborough University, which was focused on developing a phage based diagnostic test to identify Clostridium difficile.

Currently, I am working as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the phage group. I am leading the research on developing phage products against enteric pathogens of chickens and pigs, which commonly cause human food poisoning.

PhD students

Karen Adler

I am a 3rd year PhD student, supervised by Professor Martha Clokie and Dr Melissa Haines. My background is in phage therapy and clinical microbiology - I completed my Master's degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (under Professors Hazan and Nir Paz) creating a phage bank for Pseudomonas aeruginosa from cystic fibrosis patients and was involved in 7 compassionate use treatments using phage therapy. I also worked as a research associate in a clinical microbiology lab for several years between my Master's degree and starting my PhD at the University of Leicester.

Projects

Phage/Antibiotic Interaction - It is unclear how bacteriophages and antibiotics interact and whether combining the two would offer greater efficacy than either treatment alone. To investigate this, our phage collection was tested in combination with 24 antibiotics against antibiotic-resistant bacteria isolated from patients with urinary tract/bloodstream infections (UTIs/BSIs). Certain combinations demonstrated enhanced bacterial killing compared to either treatment alone, suggesting an additive or synergistic effect, while others seem to have an antagonistic effect, something we would want to avoid in the clinic. We are investigating these trends using tools such as genome sequencing.

Artificial Bladder Infection - To test the efficacy of our phages against real life situations, used catheters are collected from urology patients at the Leicester General Hospital, and used as a model of a urinary tract with an infection. These catheters are situated within a controlled 37°C incubator environment, with artificial urine media (AUM) flowing through at an anatomically correct rate, along with the administration of a phage cocktail. This ex vivo model will enable us to investigate and address UTI treatment strategies effectively.

Abdullah AlAhmadi

I completed my BSc in microbiology from Taibah University in Madinah, KSA, and my MSc in Sciences from the Faculty of Medicine, majoring in Technical Anatomy and Histology, from King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, KSA. My Masters' research project was 'Morphological and Morphometrical Classification of Suprascapular Notch: Anatomical Study and Clinical Implication' under the supervision of Professor Sherif M. Hassan, Professor of Anatomy and Embryology, and Dr Ashraf Youssef Nasr Naiem. I have two years of experience training and working in a medical microbiology and histology laboratory in hospitals.

Phage-based deodorant: Isolation and characterization of bacteriophages capable of killing odor-generating bacteria. Several Gram-positive microorganisms are implicated in the development of armpit malodor. Compounds such as volatile fatty acids (VFAs) and thioalcohols are produced from substrates secreted predominantly from the sebaceous, eccrine, and apocrine glands of the human axilla. The application of lytic bacteriophages (phages) that show specificity towards pre-defined targets such as S. hominis and S. lugdunensis could, therefore, be selectively used to remove malodorous bacteria.

Hasanain F.Y. Al-Dahash

I am a 1st year PhD student, supervised by Martha Clokie and Andrew Millard. My background is clinical microbiology especially clinical bacteriology. I completed my Master's degree at University of Babylon, College of Medicine. I worked on Burkholderia cepacia (Isolation and Identification of Burkholderia cepacia from respiratory tract infection in Hilla city, Iraq). Also, I worked as Biologist in Imam ALSadiq teaching hospital for 5 years.

My PhD project is on Phages and their activity to treatment antibiotic resistance Gram negative bacterial pathogen. I will focus on six bacterial species (Enterococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus aureus, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterobacter and Escherichia coli) and isolate phages active against these species. Also, I aim to study a genetics characterization for phage and bacteria and study genes sequence that make phage active against bacteria.

George Aldridge

A third year PhD student under the MIBTP program. I have a BSc in Biomedical Sciences from Durham University during which I undertook a research project, under the supervision of Dr Tim Blower, to investigate a novel bacteriophage resistance system on the E. coli plasmid, pEFER. I subsequently moved down the road to Newcastle University for my MRes in Molecular Microbiology and submitted my thesis entitled “Bacteriophage regulators of Mycobacterium smegmatis RNA Polymerase”.

Bacterial soft rot disease, primarily affecting vegetable and ornamental plants, accounts for global losses of £750 million and £50 million in the UK alone. There is currently no commercially available treatment for soft rot disease. In collaboration with APS biocontrol, my PhD project aims to isolate and characterise bacteriophage against the soft rot-causing bacteria, generate and optimise phage cocktails for use in the agricultural industry whilst also attempting to develop an understanding of bacteriophage cocktail dynamics.

Amani E.A. Alrashidi

I am a 1st year PhD student, supervised by Martha Clokie and Andrew Millard. I completed my BSc in microbiology from Taibah University in Madinah, KSA (2010), and an MSc in Infection and Immunity from the University of Leicester (2022) under the supervision of Professor Martha Clokie. I spent 8 years teaching practical biology to undergraduate students in the biology department at the College of Science at Tabuk University in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia. My Master's research project was isolation and characterization of Salmonella bacteriophages and determine what make a phage heat stable.

My PhD project focuses on investigation of phages that target poultry associated Salmonella strains (isolate lytic bacteriophages of Salmonella from an animal feeds factory.

Anna Bates

I have a BSc in Medical Microbiology and an MSc in Infection and Immunity, both from the University of Leicester. Between years 2 and 3 of my undergraduate degree, I undertook a yearlong project at the Universidade Do Algarve, investigating the effects of composting on the levels of AMR bacteria present in agricultural residues. In September 2022, I began a PhD in the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology.

Melioidosis is a serious tropical illness caused by the bacterium Burkholdheria pseudomallei. A recently discovered clade of phages determined AMP-1-like, are dominant throughout Thailand. These phages do not enter the replicative cycle at low temperatures, but do at higher temperatures, and it is believed they likely control B. pseudomallei population dynamics in water and soil. My current project aims to establish the molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying this temperature-dependent lifestyle switch.

Sophie Harrison

I have a BSc in Microbiology from The Evergreen State College in Washington, USA. During the last year of my undergraduate I did an independent project in Dr Betty Kutter’s laboratory on co-infection of similar typed bacteriophages that infect a single host organism. Upon graduating, I continued to work in Dr Kutter’s lab as a research associate and assistant manager.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third major cause of morbidity in the UK. In collaboration with Professor Christopher Brightling, my project aims to study and analyse the bacteriophage biome in COPD lungs. From sputum, virus-like particles can be extracted and a metagenomic database can be built to begin to understand the virome of COPD lungs. As there is an abnormal bacterial load of Haemophilus, Streptococcus, Pseudomonas, and Moraxella, an aim of searching for phages to combat these dominant species will be carried out to help aid the patients.

Rizka OA Jariah

I completed my BSc in Biochemistry at IPB University in Bogor, Indonesia and continued with a master's degree in Molecular Life Science (Biomedical Research) at Wageningen University and Research in The Netherlands. It was during my Master's thesis in Bacterial Genetics Lab that I first encountered phages, which fascinated me. I worked on a project called DISARM, which focused mostly on genetic engineering and protein expression to study phage defence mechanisms.

Phage therapy for treating UTIs that are caused by E. coli and K. penumoniae. My project focuses on optimising phage cocktails and testing the cocktails in vivo and in vitro (cell lines) model. We aim to test the efficacy and safety of the phage cocktail. I am also interested in exploring the immune response during phage therapy.

Theodore Josephs

I have a BSc in Biology from the University of Derby, and an MSc in Microbiology and Infection from the University of Birmingham. Previously I worked as a microbiologist at the Quadram Institute Bioscience, Norwich, where I worked within a germ-free animal facility assisting with germ-free experiments with a focus on the gut microbiome.

My PhD project is on phages and their ecological strategies to advance phage therapy. Identifying useful phages is limited by diverse novel genomes, overly simplistic selection criteria and a lack of understanding of phage ecology. In this project I aim to identify the ‘functional types’ or properties that make the phage therapeutically successful and by better characterising phage through an ecological framework, it will allow for the streamlined selection of optimum cocktails for phage therapy.

Andrew Kinsella

I hold a BSc in Medical Biochemistry from the University of Sheffield and an MSc in Infection and Immunity from the University of Leicester, where I first worked with phages during my six-month research project. Following my Master's project and prior to starting my PhD, I worked for two and a half years at a laboratory performing QC work and testing food samples for microbes.

My PhD project focuses on understanding the role of bacteriophages in the spread of antibiotic resistance and virulence genes in Enterococci. Recent discoveries have shown that phage-mediated gene transfer in bacteria is more common than previously believed, and the goal is to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in this process in order to potentially mitigate the spread of these genes in the future.

Jack Lee

I have a BSc Immunology and Infection from UCL (2016) and an MSc Medical Microbiology from LSHTM (2018). Before starting my PhD, I was a research assistant in microbiology at Great Ormond Street Hospital, where I worked on sequencing brain biopsies to identify causes of encephalitis and developed new techniques for working with CSF. During the pandemic, I helped implement and optimise the PCR tests used for the hospital. I also organised and collected positive samples for sequencing.

Every year, over a billion tonnes of food is thrown away, much of which is edible, but has a bad odour caused by bacteria well before the meat has spoiled. I am working on using bacteriophages in meat packaging to prevent this odour, and to reduce food waste as a result.

Zhengjie Liu

I earned an MB in Clinical Medicine from Weifang Medical College in China. After graduation, I worked as a research assistant at the Institute for Infectious Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention for a year. My work focused on cultivating and isolating Clostridium difficile bacterial samples from hospitalized patients, as well as determining their antibiotic sensitivity. I also attempted to isolate lytic bacteriophages of Clostridium difficile from environmental resources and induce lysogenic phages from our library of strains.

My PhD project aims to characterise the structure of the tail fibre proteins of phages that infect Clostridium difficile and identify the phage receptors on the host cell wall. Additionally, I aim to understand the interaction between the receptor binding proteins of phages and the surface layer proteins of bacteria. I also plan to characterise the role of Mg2+ in bacteriophage infection.

Miles Oke

I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of East Anglia in Pharmacology and Drug Discovery where I first became introduced to the gut and the idea of a microbiome. I then undertook a Master's of Science by Research at the Quadram Institute of Biosciences where I worked with bacteriophages for gut-associated bacteria.

My PhD project aims to develop an in vitro culture system to study the lung microbial community. Compared to other microbiomes, like the gut, our knowledge of the lung microbiome is relatively little, including its role in disease. By developing a system to study it in further detail, I hope to gain a better understanding of the microbial interactions and how they are involved in disease.

Arezoo Pedramfar

I hold a BSc in Cellular and Molecular Biology, and a MSc in Microbiology from Azad University in Isfahan, Iran. During my Master's program, I had the opportunity to explore the potential applications of bacteriophages. Inspired by this, I selected "Isolation and Identification of Specific Viruses Isolated from the Microbial Corroded Place in the Petroleum Industry" as my final Master's project. In my project, I proposed the application of phage therapy as an eco-friendly and economical method to battle microbial corrosion in petroleum pipelines.

My PhD project aims are to understand how phages can target specific bacteria and how these phages establish their host ranges through the development of a novel culture-independent method for studying phages.

Nzubechukwu I. Ugokwe

I had my undergraduate studies at the University of Nigeria, where I obtained the degree, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) in 2017. Between 2017 and 2019, I interned at a veterinary clinic and worked as a farm veterinarian. Then proceeded to obtain a Masters in Assisted Reproductive Theriogenology from the University of Ibadan in 2021 and in Veterinary Vaccine Production and Quality Control under the African Union program in 2022. Briefly, I worked in the viral vaccine department (Rabies vaccine lab) at the National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom, before starting my PhD at the University of Leicester.

My PhD project is on the development of phage-based vaccines for animal health. This entails the bioengineering of bacteriophage T7 to display the antigen of a known disease virus on its capsid protein, which will be delivered to the immune cells when used as a vaccine in animals. The stability, high safety profile, and ease of upscaling make phages an attractive option for use in vaccine development, which could be highly effective in disease prevention.

Postgraduate students

María Belén Lestido

I did my undergraduate degree in Biotechnology in Universidad ORT Uruguay. During my last year of studying, I carried out a research project on the generation of IgY against porcine rotavirus. At the same time, I was working as a laboratory technician carrying out viral ARN extraction for COVID tests. Currently I am a candidate for the MSc Bioinformatics in the University of Leicester.

Until recently bacteriophages were classified according to their morphology, but now a classification criterion regarding their genome was proposed. Due to the change in these criteria, the vast number of known phages need to be reclassified. My project consists of the design of an automated high throughput method, which would allow the taxonomic classification of bacteriophage genomes.

Tamanna Juthee

I have completed my undergraduate degree from Infrastructure University of Kuala Lumpur in BSc Honours Biotechnology. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to do my internship with University of Putra Malaya at the Institute of Bioscience. I have also been involved in working at the healthcare sector in Bangladesh at Lifeline Consultation and Diagnostic Ltd. Currently I am doing my MSc in Molecular Genetics from University of Leicester.

My current research is on Isolating bacteriophages against pathogenic Vibrio spp. I am searching for phages that are likely to be present in an aqueous environment that have the ability to infect vibrio present in aquaculture, which if found can be used to treat the water to avoid diseases caused by it in marine animals specially farmed fishes.

Sayde Perry

In 2022, I graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, California with a degree in Molecular Biology. During my time as an undergraduate, I primarily researched fructose metabolism in Vibrio cholerae. I also completed a year-long thesis project to investigate the control of V. cholerae lysis timing by phage ICP1. I also worked at PhagePro, a biotechnology startup, to aid in the development of a phage-based product to prevent the spread of cholera. After graduating, I was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to join the Leicester Centre for Phage Research.

My work at the Centre for Phage Research focuses on finding, characterising, and investigating phages that are able to kill stationary-phase Escherichia coli by direct lytic replication.

Visiting scientists

Nikolas Basler

I have a BSc in Biosciences and a MSc in Molecular Biology from the University of Potsdam, Germany. After an Erasmus-funded internship in the Molecular Virology Research Unit at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, I started a PhD in the lab of Viral Metagenomics at the KU Leuven, Belgium, supervised by Jelle Matthijnssens.

My PhD project revolves around the virome of the western honeybee (Apis mellifera). With a large number of samples from several European countries, I am investigating the role of bacteriophages for the health and development of these animals. Part of this endeavour involves the isolation of phages from bacterial strains of bee bacteria, which is why I am currently visiting the Centre for Phage Research under the supervision of Martha Clokie.

Alidehou Jerrold Agbankpe

My research focuses on foodborne infections and zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance and biocontrol of multi-drug resistant pathogens by medicinal plants, probiotics and bacteriophages. Since 2016, I have been involved in the implementation of several research projects. I have to my credit more than 70 scientific publications and participated in the training of 8 Master's and 4 PhDs.

Currently, as PI, I’m working on the project "Potential severity of antimicrobial resistance in context of COVID-19 pandemic and phage-assisted biocontrol: one health approach in Benin and Pakistan" funded by the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). In addition, I got the Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF) research development fellowship which allows me to characterise phage isolates from my project implementation and strengthen my capacity in phage research at the Centre of Phage Research, University of Leicester, UK. So, I'm working in this Centre as a Visiting Researcher.

Rodney King

I earned my PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from the Medical College of Virginia and completed postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr Robert Weisberg at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where I received a National Research Council (NRC) Research Associate Award. I continued at the NIH as a Staff Scientist before accepting a faculty position at Western Kentucky University in 2002. My research is primarily focused on understanding unusual mechanisms of transcription elongation control found in bacteriophages.

Haemophilus influenza, an important respiratory pathogen, is normally treated with antibiotics. The goal of my sabbatical project was to generate a mutant of H. influenza bacteriophage HP1c1 that is incapable of lysogenization. The mutant phage is expected to form easily distinguishable clear plaques and could be engineered to detect H. influenza and/or developed into an alternative therapeutic.

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