PhD Title: The Molecular Basis of Virulence in Group B Streptococcus
Supervisors: Dr Robin C May
Leanne is currently researching Group B Streptococcus and the mechanisms it uses to persist within macrophages, a key innate immune cell. Group B Streptococcus is the main cause of neonatal bacteraemia and meningitis. With the use of mutant libraries and well characterised immune cell lines we hope to determine the molecular requirements for virulence in this devastating pathogen.
MSci (Hons) Biological Sciences
My time as an undergraduate was spent right here in Birmingham, ending when I graduated in 2010 with an MSci in Biological Sciences. During my Third year I worked with Prof. Charles Penn on the function of the putative flagella biosynthesis gene flhF of Campylobacter jejuni. It was in my 4th year that I joined Robin's group, in which I am studying the intracellular survival of Streptococcus agalactiae in macrophages. After this project I couldn't bear the thought of leaving, so I managed to stay on for my PhD! Over the next few years I hope to produce a streptococcal transposon mutant library, allowing further investigation into group B streptococcal persistence in macrophages. I am also starting to look into the use of different macrophage cell lines and how polarising them towards a particular phenotype may provide a more realistic model for this particular host-pathogen interaction.
Research group: Molecular Microbiology, May Lab
Research interests: Microbial pathogens, molecular biology, immunology and pathogenesis
I am currently a Teaching Assistant for the school of biosciences, so I help a lot in workshops and practical sessions for undergraduates. I have also developed new electronic learning materials for undergraduate microbial modules. This academic year has also seen the launch of a new optional module for 2nd year undergraduates, proposed and organized by myself. This module is taught by postgraduate students and allows undergraduates to gain experience in advanced techniques used in the research laboratories within the school. I am also a language tutor for first year students and the postgraduate Society for General Microbiology representative for the school.
Leanne M. Smith, Nicola J. Cumley, Robin C. May (2010) The intracellular survival of Group B Streptococcus clinical isolates, Poster, Nottingham, Society of General Microbiology autumn conference.
Leanne M. Smith, Nicola J. Cumley, Robin C. May (2011) The intracellular survival of Streptococcus agalactiae in macrophages, Poster, Harrogate, Society of General Microbiology Spring conference.
Leanne M. Smith, Nicola J. Cumley, Robin C. May (2011) The intracellular survival of Streptococcus agalactiae in macrophages, Poster, Tuscany, Italy, 6th International conference on Gram-positive Microorganisms.
Leanne M. Smith (2011) The intracellular Survival of Streptococcus agalactiae in macrophages, Oral Presentation, Birmingham, Infection and Molecular Microbiology Symposiu