Prof Jessica Blair PhD

Jessica Blair

Institute of Microbiology and Infection
Professor of Antimicrobial Resistance

Contact details

Institute of Microbiology and Infection
G20, Biosciences Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Prof Blair’s research is focused on understanding how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics with a particular interest in the role of efflux pumps. She is also looking at how we might be able to inhibit efflux pumps to combat antibiotic resistance.


  • PhD in Microbiology, University of Birmingham, 2010
  • BA (Hons), Biological Sciences, University of Oxford, 2006


Prof Jessica Blair graduated from the University of Oxford in 2006 with a degree in Biological Sciences before coming to the University of Birmingham for her PhD, which she completed in 2009. Subsequently, Jess stayed in Birmingham where her post-doctoral research covered various aspects of antibiotic resistance.

Prof Blair was awarded a BBSRC David Phillip’s Fellowship in 2015 and now runs her own research group in the Institute of Microbiology and Infection.


Postgraduate supervision

Jess currently supervises/co-supervises two PhD students in the area of efflux mediated antibiotic resistance.

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Prof Jessica Blair directly, or
for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email

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


The use of antibiotics underpins all of modern medicine but infections are becoming harder to treat because bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to the antibiotics we currently have. Prof Blair’s research is focused on understanding how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics with a particular interest in the role of efflux pumps. These are proteins in the bacterial cell membrane that are able to pump molecules (including antibiotics) out of the cell which allows bacteria to survive antibiotic treatment. Jess’ research aims to better understand the role of these efflux pumps in antibiotic resistance of clinically relevant pathogens and also to investigate the possibility of inhibiting these efflux pumps to combat antibiotic resistance.

Other activities

Jess is a member of the following:

  • Microbiology Society
  • British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
  • American Society for Microbiology
  • European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

Jess is an antibiotic action champion and is regularly involved in lots of outreach and public engagement in science activities including three appearances at soapbox science, speaking at various science festivals and was even part of a panel discussing a post-antibiotic era at a sci-fi convention!  She also co-organises the IMI summer school for year 12 biology students and has been to various schools to talk about antibiotic resistance. In 2017 she took part in a documentary about antibiotic resistance for BBC4 (Michael Mosely vs the superbugs).


Original Articles

Wang-Kan X, Blair JMA, Chirullo B, Betts J, La Ragione R, Ivens A, Ricci V, Opperman TJ and Piddock LJV. Lack of AcrB Efflux Function Confers Loss of Virulence on Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium. MBio. 2017 Jul 18;8(4). pii: e00968-17.

Buckner MMC, Blair JMA, La Ragionen RM, Newcombe J, Dwyer DJ, Ivens A and Piddock LJV. Beyond Antimicrobial Resistance: Evidence for a Distinct Role of the AcrD Efflux Pump in Salmonella Biology. mBio. 7,6 e01916-16.

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):3511-16

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 design. J Antimicrob Chemother 70(2):424-31

Smith HE and Blair JM (2014) Redundancy in the periplasmic adaptor proteins AcrA and AcrE provides resilience and an ability to export substrates of multidrug efflux. J Antimicrob Chemother 69(4):982-7

Ricci V, Blair JM and Piddock LJ (2014) RamA, which controls expression of the MDR efflux pump AcrAB-TolC, is regulated by the Lon protease. J Antimicrob Chemother 69(3):643-50

Blair JM, Cloeckaert A, Nishino K and Piddock LJ (2013) Alternative explanation for indole-induced antibiotic tolerance in Salmonella. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110(48):E4569

Blair JM, Richmond GE, Bailey AM, Ivens A and Piddock LJ (2013) Choice of Bacterial Growth Medium Alters the Transcriptome and Phenotype of Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium. PLoS One 8(5):e63912

Raghunathan D, Wells TJ, Morris FC, Shaw RK, Bobat S, Peters SE, Paterson GK, Jensen KT, Leyton DL, Blair JM, Browning DF, Pravin J, Flores-Langarica A, Hitchcock JR, Moraes CT, Piazza RM, Maskell DJ, Webber MA, May RC, MacLennan CA, Piddock LJ, Cunningham AF and Henderson IR (2011) SadA, a trimeric autotransporter from Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, can promote biofilm formation and provides limited protection against infection. Infect Immun 79(11):4342-52

Webber MA, Bailey AM, Blair JM, Morgan E, Stevens MP, Hinton JC, Ivens A, Wain J and Piddock LJ (2009) The global consequence of disruption of the AcrAB-TolC efflux pump in Salmonella enterica includes reduced expression of SPI-1 and other attributes required to infect the host. J Bacteriol 191(13):4276-85

Harrison OB, Evans NJ, Blair JM, Grimes HS, Tinsley CR, Nassif X, Kriz P, Ure R, Gray SJ, Derrick JP, Maiden MC and Feavers IM (2009) Epidemiological Evidence for the Role of the Hemoglobin Receptor, HmbR, in Meningococcal Virulence. J Infect Dis 200(1):94–8

Blair JM, La Ragione RM, Woodward MJ and Piddock LJ (2009) Periplasmic adaptor protein AcrA has a distinct role in antibiotic resistance and virulence of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. J Antimicrob Chemother 64(5):956-72

Review and Other Articles

Blair JMA. A climate for antibiotic resistance. Nature climate change. 8, pages 460–461 (2018)

Blair JMA. Making Magic Bullets. Nature Microbiology. Vol 2:17110. 2017

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

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

Blair JM, Richmond GE and Piddock LJ (2014) Multidrug efflux pumps in Gram-negative bacteria: the influence on antibiotic resistance. Future Microbiol 9(10):1165-77

Blair JM and Piddock LJ (2009) Structure, function and inhibition of RND efflux pumps in Gram-negative bacteria: an update. Curr Opin Microbiol 12(5):512-9. This is in the top 25 most cited articles in Current Opinion in Microbiology.

View all publications in research portal