Professor Laura Piddock

Image of Professor Laura Piddock

Institute of Microbiology and Infection
Professor of Microbiology
BSAC Chair in Public Engagement

Contact details

Telephone
+44 (0)121 414 6966
Fax
+44 (0)121 414 6819
Email
l.j.v.piddock@bham.ac.uk
Twitter
@laurapiddock
Address
Institute of Microbiology and Infection
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
Floor 1
Biosciences Building
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

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 169 original articles in international peer reviewed journals, 54 invited review articles, 21 research letters, 144 conference proceedings and 6 chapters in academic books. She has given 50 plenary lectures at international conferences. She has an H-index of 65. 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 30 PhD students. She currently supervises 4 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 .

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.

Qualifications

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

Biography

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 Pathogenic bacteria. 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

Teaching Programmes

Postgraduate supervision

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

  • Mechanisms of and regulation of multi-drug resistance efflux pumps
  • 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: dr@contacts.bham.ac.uk or call +44 (0)121 414 5005.

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

Research

RESEARCH THEMES

  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Multi-drug efflux pumps
  • Microbial pathogenesis
  • Transmissible antibiotic resistance

RESEARCH ACTIVITY

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 and she has a Roche 'Extending the Innovation Network' Award. Since 1985 Laura has successfully supervised 30 PhD projects. Her team currently comprises 4 post-doctoral research fellows, 2 technicians, 3 postgraduate 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 theme 1 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)

Publications

For a full list of Professor Piddock's publications, click here.

Most recent publications

Piddock LJ (2016) Assess drug-resistance phenotypes, not just genotypes. Nat Microbiol 1(8):16120

Blair JM and Piddock LJ (2016) How to Measure Export via Bacterial Multidrug Resistance Efflux Pumps. MBio 7(4) pii: e00840-16

Richmond GE, Evans LP, Anderson MJ, Wand ME, Bonney LC, Ivens A, Chua KL, Webber MA, Sutton JM, Peterson ML and Piddock LJ (2016) Erratum for Richmond et al., The Acinetobacter baumannii Two-Component System AdeRS Regulates Genes Required for Multidrug Efflux, Biofilm Formation, and Virulence in a Strain-Specific Manner. MBio 7(3) pii: e00852-16

Piddock L, Garneau-Tsodikova S and Garner C (2016) Ask the experts: how to curb antibiotic resistance and plug the antibiotics gap? Future Med Chem 8(10):1027-32

Piddock LJ (2016) Reflecting on the final report of the O'Neill Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. Lancet Infect Dis 16(7):767-8

Richmond GE, Evans LP, Anderson MJ, Wand ME, Bonney LC, Ivens A, Chua KL, Webber MA, Sutton JM, Peterson ML and  Piddock LJ (2016) The Acinetobacter baumannii Two-Component System AdeRS Regulates Genes Required for Multidrug Efflux, Biofilm Formation, and Virulence in a Strain-Specific Manner. MBio 7(2):e00430-16
Erratum in: MBio. 2016;7(3). pii: e00852-16. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00852-16

Anuforom O, Wallace GR, Buckner MM and Piddock LJ (2016) Ciprofloxacin and ceftriaxone alter cytokine responses, but not Toll-like receptors, to Salmonella infection in vitro. J Antimicrob Chemother 71(7):1826-33

Saw HT, Webber MA, Mushtaq S, Woodford N and Piddock LJ (2016) Inactivation or inhibition of AcrAB-TolC increases resistance of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae to carbapenems. J Antimicrob Chemother 71(6):1510-9

Holmes AH, Moore LS, Sundsfjord A, Steinbakk M, Regmi S, Karkey A, Guerin PJ and Piddock LJ (2016) Understanding the mechanisms and drivers of antimicrobial resistance. Lancet 387(10014):176-87

Expertise

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