Professor Laura Piddock

Image of Professor Laura Piddock

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

Contact details

+44 (0)121 414 6966
+44 (0)121 414 6819
Institute of Microbiology and Infection
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
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 successfully integrated this background with academic research. She has published 167 original articles in international peer reviewed journals, 51 invited review articles, 21 research letters, 140 conference proceedings and 6 chapters in academic books. She has given 50 plenary lectures at international conferences. She has an H-index of 62. 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, and has a Roche 'Extending the Innovation Network' Award. Laura is an active participant in international consortia, such as the EU IMI funded project 'DRIVE-AB'. Since 1985 Laura has successfully supervised 25 PhD students. She currently supervises 3 postgraduate students.

Laura is an enthusiastic communicator about antibiotic resistance and the lack of new antibacterial treatments. She gives talks to various groups at local, national and international level. Laura frequently contributes to both the local, national and international media (print, radio, television and digital) and has advised on, and appeared in, several documentaries. Laura is the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 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) and a leading member of the NIHR SRMRC.

In this video Professor Laura Piddock describes her background and career to date, what drives her research and how it affects the world.  She also discusses her research work with postgraduates from the UK and overseas.


  • 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 such as 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 collaborates widely with other researchers in Birmingham, elsewhere in the UK and overseas; current funded projects are with colleagues in Ireland, France and Switzerland.


Teaching Programmes

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
  • Multi-drug 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, NIHR and she has a Roche 'Extending the Innovation Network' Award. Since 1985 Laura has successfully supervised 28 PhD projects. Her team currently comprises 4 post-doctoral research fellows, 2 technicians, 3 postgraduate students, 2 MBChB intercalated students and several undergraduate project students.

Other activities

  • Vice Chair, EU Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Longitude Prize Expert Advisory Panel
  • National Institute for Health Research Reference Group - Antimicrobial Resistance Themed Call
  • MRC Cross Funder AMR committee (2015)
  • Member of Wellcome Trust Expert Review College
  • Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (2012)
  • President of BSAC 2009-2012
  • MRC Infections and Immunity Board Member 2004-2010
  • Chair, Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation Distinguished Award Committee
  • Elected Fellow of the Academy of Microbiology (2001)


  • Deputy Director, Institute of Microbiology and Infection


Blair JM, Smith HE, Ricci V, Lawler AJ, Thompson LJ and Piddock LJ (2015) Expression of homologous RND efflux pump genes is dependent upon AcrB expression: Implications for efflux and virulence inhibitor designJ Antimicrob Chemother 70(2):424-31

Baylay AJ and Piddock LJ (2015) Clinically relevant fluoroquinolone resistance due to constitutive overexpression of the PatAB ABC transporter in Streptococcus pneumoniae is conferred by disruption of a transcriptional attenuator. J Antimicrob Chemother 70(3):670-9

Blair JM, Bavro VN, Ricci V, Modi N, Cacciotto P, Kleinekathӧfer U, Ruggerone P, Vargiu AV, Baylay AJ, Smith HE, Brandon Y, Galloway D and Piddock LJ (2015) AcrB drug-binding pocket substitution confers clinically relevant resistance and altered substrate specificity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112(11):3511-6

Baylay AJ, Ivens A and Piddock LJ (2015) A novel gene amplification causes upregulation of the PatAB ABC transporter and fluoroquinolone resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 59(6):3098-108

Webber MA, Whitehead RN, Mount M, Loman NJ, Pallen MJ and Piddock LJ (2015) Parallel evolutionary pathways to antibiotic resistance selected by biocide exposure. J Antimicrob Chemother 70(8):2241-8

Blair JM, Webber MA, Baylay AJ, Ogbolu DO and Piddock LJ (2015) Molecular mechanisms of antibiotic resistance. Nat Rev Microbiol 13(1):42-51

Piddock LJ (2015) Teixobactin, the first in a new class of antibiotics discovered by iChip technology? J Antimicrob Chemother 70(10):2679-80

Meek RW, Vyas H and Piddock LJ (2015) Nonmedical Uses of Antibiotics: Time to Restrict Their Use? PLoS Biol 13(10):e1002266

Holmes A,  Sunsdsfjord A, Steinbakk M,  Karkey RA, Guerin P, Moore L and Piddock LJV (2015) Sustaining Effective Antimicrobials: Understanding the mechanisms and the drivers of antimicrobial resistance. Lancet 387(10014):176-87

Please follow this link to PubMed for a full and current list of publications:


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

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