Area Academic Contact: Professor Mark Pallen, School of Biosciences, firstname.lastname@example.org
According to the Web of Science, microbiology is third on the list of research areas at the University of Birmingham in terms of average number of citations per paper. By the same criterion, Birmingham ranks among the top half dozen academic institutes in the UK in microbiology research.
Our papers appear in a range of journals, including journals with the highest impact factors. The university benefits from teaching and research collaborations with medical microbiologists in local NHS Trusts (particularly the UHB Trust) and with the Health Protection Agency.
The co-location on the same campus of a Russell-group university, which includes one of the country's oldest, largest and most research-active medical schools, a brand-new "superhospital", the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, and the recently funded £10m NIHR-funded Centre for Surgical Reconstruction underpin first-class microbiology research in Birmingham. Our campus location also provides excellent opportunities for local collaborations with other research disciplines and core facilities (e.g. biochemistry, mass spectrometry, immunology, structural biology, genomics, modelling). Recruitment and retention of talented students and staff are facilitated by our position at the heart of a dynamic, well connected, regenerated but affordable metropolis.
Microbiology research stretches across several schools, including the School of Biosciences, the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, the School of Chemical Engineering, the School of Immunity and Infection, and the School of Dentistry, amongst others.
A network of joint studentships and research projects, twinned with a trail of co-authored papers, provides proof of a rich local culture of research collaboration.
Microbiology is taught across a range of degree programmes and features in the training of medical and dental students. In any one year, over a thousand University of Birmingham students will have been exposed to microbiology teaching.
Basic Science of Model Organisms
Birmingham is at the forefront of efforts to understand biology’s premier model organism, Escherichia coli, with a particular focus on regulation of transcription (Busby; Grainger; Pallen; Cole), plasmid biology (Thomas) and cell wall biosynthesis (Henderson, Lovering).
Infection still represents a serious threat to human health globally, nationally and locally. Tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis C continue to spread in our communities, while hospital infections are of serious concern to the public, to policy-makers and to the press—some have prophesized an imminent "post-antibiotic apocalypse", where we run out of treatment options. The heroic success of modern medicine guarantees the prolonged survival of vulnerable patients in our healthcare facilities and communities, while leaving them open to infection. Cystic fibrosis patients now survive into adulthood, but face a life blighted by repeated infections. Overuse of antibiotics, combined with social changes such as migration, military conflict and bioterrorism mean that the emergence of new pathogens and the proliferation of new strains of old pathogens remain constant problems.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham are at the cutting edge of efforts to understand, prevent and manage infections as diverse as such as tuberculosis, pneumococcal disease, salmonellosis, cryptococcal infection, viral hepatitis and multi-drug resistant hospital infections.
We have research ongoing in cooperation and communication of microbes in biofilms, metabolic division of labour, individual-based modelling, and systems biology, as well as bioremediation, biomineralization, immobilized cells and biofilms.
Microbial biotechnology reaches across biosciences and chemical engineering. We investigate the way in which microorganisms can be harnessed to perform useful tasks in bioprocesses, the physiological and regulatory reasons for bioprocess failure, and the development of methods to allow physiological data to inform bioprocess design and control.
Key Research Leads
School of Biosciences
Microbiology within the School of Biosciences is part of a strong grouping of 19 bacteriology principal investigators. Current levels of funding for Microbiology related projects within the School of Biosciences amounts to >£12 million.
Microbiology principal investigators include:
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
School of Chemical Engineering
School of Immunity and Infection
with current funding of £5.69 million
Recruitment is underway for at least five new positions: Chair in Global Infections, Clinical Scientist/Lecturer, HPA Clinical Lecturer in Public Health Microbiolog, CSRM Clinical Lecturer, CSRM Senior Lecturer (with UHB).
School of Dentistry
Our substantial grant-income from major funding bodies provides solid evidence of our world-class reputation with grant panels and reviewers. We are also well represented within these funding bodies. Several of us (Besra, Busby, Pallen, Henderson, Piddock) manage research portfolios each amounting to > £1million of external funding. Our diverse research interests and track record as early adopters of cutting edge-technologies (next-generation sequencing; bacterial mutagenesis protocols; bioinformatics; metagenomics) provides us with the credibility and timeliness to exploit large funding initiatives.