Understanding the rules of microbial life, to develop new drugs and interventions against important pathogens
Aims of the research
Each individual microbial cell is a remarkable microscopic factory, within which myriad molecular machines interact to drive processes as diverse as DNA replication, cell movement, protein synthesis and host invasion. Understanding how these processes occur is not only fundamental to all of biology but also holds the key to combatting the major threat posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Within the IMI, several groups study vital biological processes including the regulation of microbial gene expression, the process by which microbes shape their cell surface and the mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria and fungi. We have a particular strength in leveraging insights from structural biology and high-throughput screens to gain new insights into how microbes live and infect their hosts.
As well as revealing critical aspects of microbial biology, these fundamental studies provide new and important insights into how we might tackle antimicrobial resistance and emerging infections. For instance, these investigations are revealing ways that we can ‘turn off’ virulence and resistance traits in human pathogens and highlighting strategies that bacteria and fungi might use to adapt to new hosts, including plants and humans. By interweaving the exploration of these central microbiological processes with more applied work on drug development and immune responses, our aim is to design highly targeted approaches to tackle infections whilst minimising the risk of disturbing the wider microbial ecology of humans and their environment.