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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.