Dr Sarah A Kuehne

Image of Sarah Kuehne

School of Dentistry
Lecturer in Oral Microbiology

Contact details

The School of Dentistry
University of Birmingham
5 Mill Pool Way
B5 7EG

Dr Sarah Kuehne is a lecturer in Oral Microbiology and the lead of the Oral Microbiology Research Group at the University of Birmingham in the School of Dentistry.

She has over 12 years experience in molecular medical microbiology and published her work in high impact journals.

Her particular interest lies in the discovery and characterisation of bacterial virulence factors.

Sarah’s lab is working on the communication between bacteria and bacteria-host interactions, studying phenomena like production and sensing of signal molecules (quorum sensing), but also metabolism, sharing of resources, competition and cooperation.

She specialises in anaerobic bacteria and their role in pathogenesis and health.

Sarah has great experience in supervising PhD students and also MSc, MRes and undergraduate research projects.

Sarah’s research group holds close links to the world-renown Institute of Microbiology and Infection (IMI), led by Prof Ian Henderson.


  • PhD in Molecular Microbiology, University of Nottingham, UK, 2008
  • MSc in Biotechnology, Ecole Supérieure de Biotechnologie de Strasbourg, France, 2003
  • BSc in Biotechnology, Technical University, Berlin, Germany, 2000


Dr Sarah Kuehne studied Biotechnology at the technical University of Berlin (Germany). After obtaining her Bsc, she moved to France to join the Ecole Supérieure de Biotechnologie de Strasbourg for an MSc in Biotechnology.

Sarah completed her PhD at the University of Nottingham, working on posttranscriptional regulation and small regulatory RNAs in the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

She then joined the Clostridia Research Group of Prof Nigel Minton, improving our understanding of the important pathogen Clostridium difficile. During her time in the CRG, Sarah supervised PhD students, MSc and BMedSci projects. She worked also with major pharmaceutical companies on the discovery of antimicrobial resistance mechanisms.

In 2016 Sarah moved to the University of Birmingham and is now leading the oral microbiology research group. Her interests centre on the communication/interaction between bacteria, competition and cooperation and how these factors influence health and disease in the (human) host.


Teaching Programmes

  • BMedSc - Supervision of 3rd year laboratory projects
  • Elective coordinator (4th year BDS)
  • Oral Microbiology lectures and tutorial (BDS term 6, Dental Pathology and Immunology)
  • Introduction to Bacteriology (2nd year BMedSc)

Postgraduate supervision

Currently Supervising:

  • M. Lister: 2012 – 2016
  • A. Dempster: 2013 –
  • N. Kinsmore: 2013 –
  • L. Finch: 2013 –
  • P. Ingle: 2013 –
  • M. Whittle: 2013 –
  • T. Bilverstone: 2014 –

Previously Supervised:

  • N. Joshi: 2009 – 2013 “Small regulatory RNAs in Clostridium difficile
  • P. Budd: 2011-2016 “Implementation and optimisation of alternative therapeutics for use in Clostridium sporogenes as a delivery vehicle”

The Oral Microbiology Research Group is welcoming new MRes or PhD candidates to work on the pathogenesis of major oral pathogens and their links to systemic infections (like diabetes, endocarditis and rheumatoid arthritis).

We also have projects available studying the communication between bacteria and bacteria-host interactions, then using this knowledge to develop novel countermeasures against infections.

Additionally we are also working on the oral resistome, studying the spread of antimicrobial resistance all the way from the oral cavity to the gut.

If you are interested in studying any of these subject areas please contact Dr Kuehne 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.


The Oral Microbiology Research Group is exploring bacterial communities (biofilms) and the communication within these communities (quorum sensing). We are particularly interested in the shift from health to disease, how it occurs and how it can be reversed.

Methods employed reach from anaerobic microbiology to microbial engineering, whole genome sequencing and measurements of host-pathogen interactions.

Previously Sarah has investigated the pathogenesis of the important human pathogen Clostridium difficile. In particular she studied the importance of C. difficile’s toxins, recurrence of infection and novel therapy approaches. This work is still ongoing.

Sarah has also worked on other Clostridia, such as Clostridium sporogenes which is used in Cancer therapy.

Other activities

  • Member of the Microbiology Society (MiSoc), committee member of the prokaryotic division since 2016
  • Member of the Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM)
  • Member of the International Association of Dental Research (IADR) and the British Society for Oral and Dental Research (BSODR)
  • Member of the British Society of Periodontology (BSP)
  • Member of the Association of Basic Science Teachers in Dentistry (ABSTD)


Studer N, Desharnais L, Beutler M, Brugiroux S, Terrazos MA, Menin L, Schürch CM, McCoy KD, Kuehne SA, Minton NP, Stecher B, Bernier-Latmani R, Hapfelmeier S. (2016) Functional Intestinal Bile Acid 7α-Dehydroxylation by Clostridium scindens Associated with Protection from Clostridium difficile Infection in a Gnotobiotic Mouse Model. Front Cell Infect Microbiol Dec 20;6:191

Collery MM*, Kuehne SA*, McBride SM, Kelly ML, Monot M, Cockayne A, Dupuy B and Minton NP (2016) What's a SNP between friends: The influence of single nucleotide polymorphisms on virulence and phenotypes of Clostridium difficile strain 630 and derivatives. Virulence [Epub ahead of print] * Joint first author

Cowardin CA, Buonomo EL, Saleh MM, Wilson MG, Burgess SL, Kuehne SA, Schwan C, Eichhoff AM, Koch-Nolte F, Lyras D, Aktories K, Minton NP and Petri WA Jr (2016) The binary toxin CDT enhances Clostridium difficile virulence by suppressing protective colonic eosinophilia. Nat Microbiol 1(8):16108

Stevenson EC, Major GA, Spiller RC, Kuehne SA and Minton NP (2016)  Co-infection and emergence of rifamycin resistance during a recurrent Clostridium difficile infection.  J Clin Microbiol. pii: JCM.01025-16. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27558181

Jafari NV, Kuehne SA, Minton NP, Allan E and Bajaj-Elliott M (2016) Clostridium difficile-mediated effects on human intestinal epithelia: Modelling host-pathogen interactions in a vertical diffusion chamber. Anaerobe 37:96-102

Stevenson E, Minton NP and Kuehne SA (2015) The role of flagella in Clostridium difficile pathogenicity. Trends Microbiol 23(5):275-82

Heap JT, Theys J, Ehsaan M, Kubiak AM, Dubois L, Paesmans K, Mellaert LV, Knox R, Kuehne SA, Lambin P and Minton NP. Spores of Clostridium engineered for clinical efficacy and safety cause regression and cure of tumors in vivo. Oncotarget 2014; 5(7):1761-9

Kuehne SA, Collery MM, Kelly ML, Cartman ST, Cockayne A and Minton NP. The importance of toxin A in virulence of an epidemic Clostridium difficile strain. J Infect Dis 2014; 209(1):83-6.

Baban ST*, Kuehne SA*, Barketi-Klai A, Cartman ST, Kelly ML, Hardie KR, Kansau I, Collignon A and Minton NP. The role of flagella in Clostridium difficile pathogenesis: Comparison of a non-epidemic and an epidemic strain. PLos One 2013; 8(9):e73026.

Ðapa T, Leuzzi R, Ng YK, Baban ST, Kuehne SA, Scarselli M, Minton NP and Serruto D. Multiple factors modulate biofilm formation by the anaerobic pathogen Clostridium difficile. J Bacteriol 2013; 195(3):545-55.

Kuehne SA, Cartman ST, Heap JT, Kelly ML, Cockayne A and Minton NP.  The role of toxin A and toxin B in Clostridium difficile infection. Nature 2010; 467: 711-713.  

* Joint first author

View all publications in research portal