Professor Laura Piddock


Professor of Microbiology
Deputy Director, Institute of Microbiology and Infection
BSAC Chair in Public Engagement

School of Immunity and Infection


Contact details

Telephone +44 (0)121 414 6966

Fax +44 (0)121 414 6819


Twitter @laurapiddock

School of Immunity and Infection
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
c/o Institute of Microbiology and Infection
Floor 1
Biosciences Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT


Laura Piddock is Professor of Microbiology. Since she started her PhD in 1982, she has been at the forefront of antimicrobial research. Laura started her career in a clinical environment and has successfuly integrated this background with academic research. She has published 151 original articles in international peer reviewed journals, 36 invited review articles, 41 research letters, 129 conference proceedings and five chapters in academic books.  She has given 44 plenary lectures at international conferences. She has an H-index of 50. Her current research focuses on understanding mechanisms of antibiotic resistance as a basis for drug discovery and includes (1) multidrug efflux (pumping out of the bacterial cell) and regulation (switching on and off) of multidrug efflux pumps,  and (2) furthering understanding of the mechanism of transfer of plasmids (mobile genetic elements) between bacteria. For further information about the work of Laura's team, please see the Antimicrobials Research Group website:

Laura receives support for her research from the MRC, BBSRC, Defra and Health Protection Agency and is an active participant in international consortia. Since 1985 Laura has successfully supervised 20 PhD students. She currently supervises four postgraduate students.

Laura is an enthusiastic communicator about antibiotic resistance and the lack of new antibacterial treatments. She gives frequent talks to various groups at local, national and international level. Laura frequently contributes to both the local and national media (print, radio and television) and has advised on, and appeared in, several documentaries. Laura is the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (to find out more please see Chair in Public Engagement and in this role is the Director of Antibiotic Action (

Laura Piddock is the Deputy Director of the Institute of Microbiolgy and Infection (IMI; to find out more please see and a leading member of the NIHR SRMRC (to find out more please see the SRMRC website).


  • PhD, The Penicillin Binding Proteins of four species of Bacteroides 1985
  • BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences (Biochemistry and Microbiology) 1981


Despite initial intentions to follow a career in forensic science, Laura carried out a PhD with Professor Richard Wise at Dudley Road Hospital (now City Hospital) in Birmingham. She became fascinated with the world of microbiology especially antibiotic resistance. Her research focuses on how antibiotic resistance arises, defining and characterising clinically relevant mechanisms of resistance in zoonoses such as Salmonella enterica and pathogens of the respiratory tract such as Streptococcus pneumoniae. Laura’s team has provided seminal contributions on antibacterial resistance, and this information has been used globally to aid rational antibiotic use by clinicians and veterinarians. In particular her team’s pioneering work on resistance to the fluoroquinolone antibiotics showed that bacteria from humans and animals became resistant via the same mechanism due to identical mutations in the same genes. Laura has advised organisations e.g. the World Health Organisation and scientific data from her team has been used by national governmental agencies when deciding whether to withdraw the licences of some antibiotics from veterinary medicine. For example, with collaborators, molecular and epidemiological data showed fluoroquinolone use in commercial poultry production led to antibiotic resistant bacteria entering the food chain. Laura’s team has also led the way for other scientists in the use of high throughput state of the art technologies to analyse large numbers of clinical isolates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Laura’s current work is in three areas (1) mechanisms of regulation of expression of bacterial efflux pumps and how this impacts upon the biology of the bacterium and so its ability to infect the host, (2) identifying inhibitors of efflux, and (3) genomics of plasmid and chromosomally mediated antibiotic resistance.

She collaborate widely with other researchers in Birmingham, elsewhere in the UK and overseas; this includes formally funded projects with colleagues in Singapore and Canada.


Teaching Programmes

BMedSci years 1-3 lectures, tutorials, practical classes, project students;

MBChB lectures;

MBChB intercalated students, lectures, projects;

MSci Biosciences, project students;

BSc Biosciences, project students;

MPhil toxicology, project students;

MSc toxicology, project students.

Postgraduate supervision

Laura is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the following areas:

  • Mechanisms of multi-drug resistance, especially efflux
  • Impact of antibiotic resistance upon the fitness of the bacterium to colonise and infect the host.
  • Transmissible antibiotic resistance

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Laura on the contact details above, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email: or call +44 (0)121 414 5005.

For a full list of available Doctoral Research opportunities, please visit our Doctoral Research programme listings.



Antimicrobial resistance

Efflux pumps

Microbial pathogenesis

Transmissible antibiotic resistance


Laura’s work focuses on how bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. This is a growing problem, as more strains of bacteria become resistant to the drugs that were primarily developed more than 20 years ago. Her research focuses on how antibiotic resistance arises, and defining and characterising mechanisms of resistance that have a clinical relevance.

She is also exploring the role of antibiotic resistance mechanisms in the ability of the organism to colonise, survive and cause infection in their host. Laura is particularly interested in the systems that allow transport of antibiotics into and out of bacteria. Adaptations to these systems occur in bacteria and cause multiple drug resistance. Although this work has many applications, Laura has made particularly detailed studies of food borne bacteria such as salmonella and campylobacter and the pneumococcus that causes pneumonia.

Current work is in three areas (1) mechanisms of regulation of expression of bacterial efflux pumps and how this impacts upon the ability of the bacterium to infect the host, (2) identifying inhibitors of efflux, and (3) genomics of plasmid and chromosomally mediated antibiotic resistance.

Laura receives support for her research from the MRC, BBSRC, Defra and Health Protection Agency. Two grants are international collaborations, one with Canadian researchers, the other with those from Singapore. Since 1985 Laura has successfully supervised 20 PhD projects. Her team currently comprises three post-doctoral research fellows, two technicians, four postgraduate students and several undergraduate project students.

Other activities

  • Member of Wellcome Trust Expert Review Group on Pathogens and Transmissible Diseases
  • Elected Fellow of the Society of Biology
  • President of BSAC 2009-2012
  • MRC Infections and Immunity Board Member 2004-2010
  • Chair, Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation Distinguished Award Committee 2004-2005
  • Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology 2000


Co-ordinate Bacteriology within School of I&I;

Member of promotion, research, and executive committees of School of I&I;

Supervise four PhD students


Please follow this link to PubMed for an up to date list of publications:

Examples include:

  1. Lawler AJ, Ricci V, Busby SJ, Piddock LJ. (2013). Genetic inactivation of acrAB or inhibition of efflux induces expression of ramA. J Antimicrob Chemother. Mar 14. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Richmond GE, Chua KL, Piddock LJ. (2013). Efflux in Acinetobacter baumannii can be determined by measuring accumulation of H33342 (bis-benzamide). J Antimicrob Chemother. 2013 Mar 9. [Epub ahead of print]
  3. Ricci V, Loman N, Pallen M, Ivens A, Fookes M, Langridge GC, Wain J, Piddock LJ. (2012). The TCA cycle is not required for selection or survival of multidrug-resistant Salmonella. J Antimicrob Chemother. 67 (3): 589-99.
  4. Cottell, Jennifer L, Webber Mark A, Piddock LJ.  (2012).  Persistence of transferable ESBL resistance in the absence of antibiotic pressure.  Antimicrob. Ag. Chemother. 56(9):4703-6.
  5. 5.     Ricci V, Busby SJ, Piddock LJ. (2012). Regulation of RamA by RamR in Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium: Isolation of a RamR Superrepressor. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 56(11):6037-40.
  6. 6.     Piddock, L.J. (2011). The crisis of no new antibiotics - what is the way forward? Lancet Infect Dis. 17 November 2011.
  7. Cottell, J.L., Webber, M.A., Coldham, N.G., Taylor, D.L., Cerdeno-Tarraga, A.M., Hauser, H., Thomson, N.R., Woodward, M.J., and Piddock, L.J. (2011). Complete sequence and molecular epidemiology of IncK epidemic plasmid encoding blaCTX-M-14. Emerg Infect Dis 17, 645-652.
  8. Porsby, C.H., Webber, M.A., Nielsen, K.F., Piddock, L.J., and Gram, L. (2011). Resistance and tolerance to tropodithietic acid, an antimicrobial in aquaculture, is hard to select. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 55, 1332-1337.
  9. Piddock, L.J., Garvey, M.I., Rahman, M.M., and Gibbons, S. (2010). Natural and synthetic compounds such as trimethoprim behave as inhibitors of efflux in Gram-negative bacteria. J Antimicrob Chemother 65, 1215-1223.
  10. Bailey, A.M., Ivens, A., Kingsley, R., Cottell, J.L., Wain, J., and Piddock, L.J. (2010). RamA, a member of the AraC/XylS family, influences both virulence and efflux in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. J Bacteriol 192, 1607-1616.
  11. Gunell, M.M., Webber M.A., Kotilainen,P., Lilly A.J., Caddick J.M., Jalava J., Huovinen,P.,  Siitonen, A., Hakanen A.J., and Piddock, L.J.V.  2009.  Mechanisms of resistance in non-Typhoidal Salmonella enterica exhibiting a nonclassical quinolone resistance phenotype. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 53(9): 3832-3836


Antibiotic resistance in bacteria, especially food borne pathogens and those that infect the respiratory tract

Alternative contact number available for this expert: contact the press office

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