Dr Mark Alexander Webber PhD, MSc, BSc

Dr Mark Alexander Webber

Institute of Microbiology and Infection
Senior Research Fellow

Contact details

Institute of Microbiology and Infection
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
S115, Biosciences Building
University Road West
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Mark Webber's research is focused on antimicrobial action and resistance with specific interests in bacterial evolution in response to stress, mechanisms of biofilm formation and transferrable resistance as well as numerous other areas of study related to infection. Mark co-heads the Antimicrobials Research Group with Professor Laura Piddock.


Mark has received major grants from the BBSRC as well as other support from the MRC, Royal Society and British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. 


  • PhD, Mechanisms of multiple antibiotic resistance in Escherichia coli, University of Birmingham, 2001
  • MSc in Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University of Birmingham, 1998
  • BSc in Microbiology, University of Birmingham, 1997


Mark Webber studied for a BSc (Hons) in Microbiology from the University of Birmingham between 1994 and 1997. He went on to complete a Master’s Degree in Medical Microbiology and Infectious diseases (1998) and then study for a PhD in the School of Immunity and Infection between 1998 and 2001. Subsequently Mark has continued to work in Birmingham investigating aspects of multiple antibiotic resistance, bacterial stress responses and biofilm formation, predominantly in Gram negative pathogens.

Mark was awarded a BBSRC David Phillips fellowship to study novel mechanisms of resistance to the common antimicrobial, triclosan in 2007-2012.

Mark is active within the antimicrobial resistance research community and was appointed as an Editor for the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy in December 2006, was appointed as an Editor for the Journal of Medical Microbiology in November 2009 and appointed to the editorial board of PLoS ONE in December 2010. Mark has acted as convener or organiser for numerous meetings in both general microbiology (as part of his roles with the Microbiology Society) and in antimicrobial resistance.

Mark was awarded the 2010 WH Pierce prize for ‘Outstanding contribution to microbiology’ by the Society for Applied Microbiology.

Here is a video of Mark talking about his research relating to changing the worldwide policy on antibiotic resistance:


Mark currently devises and delivers teaching content for a arange of programmes and acts as module lead for a number of these:

Postgraduate supervision

Mark supervises and co-supervises in the region of 8 PhD students and is interested in supervising future doctoral research students in the following areas:

  • The role of stress as a signal and how supercoiling can alter global gene expression
  • How does adaptation to high density life (biofilm) alter metabolite and drug transport
  • Investigating linkages between MDR efflux pumps and biofilm formation
  • Development of novel approaches to prevent biofilm formation

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Mark 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.   



Microbial drug resistance, Bacterial stress responses, Regulation of gene expression, Mechanisms of biofilm formation


Biocide-antibiotic cross resistance

The main focus of Mark's current work (supported by his fellowship and a project grant from BBSRC) is investigation of how exposure of bacteria to biocides can select for cross resistance to antibiotics. The role of generic stress responses relevant to both biocide and antibiotic resistance are being investigated using a combination of contemporary sequencing, transcriptomic and proteomic approaches to identify key loci involved in increased tolerance to biocides and antibiotics. Most of this work focuses on the food borne pathogen, Salmonella.

Efflux pumps and biofilm formation

Recently Mark has been involved in work demonstrating that multidrug efflux systems have roles beyond solute export in Gram negative bacteria, this includes a requirement for some efflux systems to be intact to form a normal biofilm. Mark supervises a PhD project investigating the mechanisms by which multidrug efflux systems contribute to biofilm formation, again in Salmonella.

Transferable antibiotic resistance

Mark also has an interest in mobile genetic elements which mediate transfer of antibiotic resistance genes; he co-supervises a PhD student with Professor Laura Piddock who has determined the sequence of a plasmid carrying an extended spectrum beta lactamase and designed a PCR based molecular test to follow its epidemiology in isolates around the world. Mark also has an active collaboration with a Nigerian research group where levels of antibiotic resistance are very high and has characterised the nature of resistance genes and plasmids present in Nigeria which may act as a reservoir for spread of resistance around the world.

Other activities

  • Mark acts as a mentor for the BBSRC to fellows appointed to the FLF scheme
  • Mark is a member of the ‘pool of experts’ for BBSRC
  • Mark is a member of the Microbiology Societies prokaryotic meetings organising committee
  • Mark acts as an Editor for PLoS ONE
  • Mark is a regular expert assessor of grant applications for the Wellcome trust, British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Agencie National de la Recherche (French government) and Irish Health Research Board
  • Mark is an expert member of CAAMIC (centre for application of advanced materials in infection control) panel
  • Mark regularly acts as an external examiner for PhD candidates
  • Mark is a member of the Society for General Microbiology, British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, American Society for Microbiology, European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and the Society for Applied Microbiology


Halstead FD, Rauf M, Moiemen NS, Bamford A, Wearn CM, Fraise AP, Lund PA, Oppenheim BA and Webber MA (2015) The Antibacterial Activity of Acetic Acid against Biofilm-Producing Pathogens of Relevance to Burns Patients. PLoS One 10(9):e0136190

Quick J, Ashton P, Calus S, Chatt C, Gossain S, Hawker J, Nair S, Neal K, Nye K, Peters T, DePinna E, Robinson E, Struthers K, Webber M, Catto A, Dallman TJ, Hawkey P and Loman NJ (2015) Rapid draft sequencing and real-time nanopore sequencing in a hospital Salmonella outbreak. Genome Biology 16(1):114

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

Cottell JL, Saw HT, Webber MA and Piddock LJ (2014) Functional genomics to identify the factors contributing to successful persistence and global spread of an antibiotic resistance plasmid. BMC Microbiol 14:168

Redgrave LS, Sutton SB, Webber MA and Piddock LJ (2014) Fluoroquinolone resistance: mechanisms, impact on bacteria, and role in evolutionary success. Trends Microbiol 22(8):438-45

Ogbolu DO and Webber MA (2014) High-level and novel mechanisms of carbapenem resistance in Gram-negative bacteria from tertiary hospitals in Nigeria. Int J Antimicrob Agents 43(5):412-7

Baugh S, Phillips CR, Ekanayaka AS, Piddock LJ and Webber MA (2014) Inhibition of multidrug efflux as a strategy to prevent biofilm formation. J Antimicrob Chemother 69(3):673-81