Professor Laura Piddock

Image of Professor Laura Piddock

Institute of Microbiology and Infection
Professor of Microbiology

Contact details

+44 (0)121 414 6966
+44 (0)121 414 6819
Institute of Microbiology and Infection
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
Floor 1
Biosciences Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

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 over 170 original articles in international peer reviewed journals, 54 invited review articles, 21 research letters, 150 conference proceedings and 6 chapters in academic books. She has given over 50 plenary lectures at international conferences. She has an H-index of 67. 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.

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 been interviewed, advised on, and appeared in, several documentaries for numerous global networks including BBC (One, Two, Four, Radio 2, Radio 4, Radio 5 Live), Al Jazeera, CNN, Chanel 4, Sky News.Laura is the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy Chair in Public Engagement and in this role is the Director of Antibiotic Action and leads the secretariat ofthe UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Antibiotics.

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.


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


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 Programmes

  • BMedSc years 1-3: lectures, tutorials, practical classes
  • MBChB: lectures, intercalated student, projects
  • MRes Molecular and Cellular Biology: project students
  • MSc Microbiology & Infection lectures: project students
  • MSc Genomics: lectures

Postgraduate supervision

Laura is not currently recruiting doctoral research students.



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


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 Gram 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 and 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 Masters project students.

Other activities

  • Chair, EU Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (2017-2019; previously Vice-Chair 2015-17)
  • Longitude Prize Expert Advisory Panel (2014-2017)
  • Institute for Health Research Reference Group – Antimicrobial National Resistance Themed Call
  • MRC Cross Funder AMR theme 1 committee (2015)
  • Member of The Wellcome Trust Expert Review College (to 2017) 
  • Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (2012)
  • President of British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 2009-2012 
  • MRC Infections and Immunity Board Member 2004-2010
  • Chair, Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation Distinguished Award Committee (2007)
  • Elected Fellow of the Academy of Microbiology (2001)


Full list of Professor Piddock's publications

Most recent publications

1.    Mattia Zampieri, Tim Enke, Victor Chubukov, Vito Ricci, Laura Piddock and Uwe Sauer. (2017). Metabolic constraints on the evolution of antibiotic resistance. Mol Syst Biol 6;13(3):917. PMID:28265005

2.    Webber MA, Buckner MM, Redgrave LS, Ifill G, Michanall LA, Webb C, Iddles R, Maxwell A, Piddock LJ. (2017). Quinolone-resistant gyrase mutants demonstrate decreased susceptibility to triclosan due to de-repression of general stress response pathways. J Antimicrob Chemother. July 3

3.    Xuan Wang-Kan, Jessica Blair, Barbara Chirullo, Jonathan Betts, Roberto La Ragione, Alasdair Ivens, Vito Ricci, Timothy Opperman, and Laura Piddock. (2017). Lack of AcrB efflux function confers loss of virulence to Salmonella Typhimurium. mBio Jul 18;8(4). pii: e00968-17. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00968-17. PMID: 8720734

4.    Ricci V, Attah V, Overton T, Grainger DC, Piddock LJV. (2017). CsrA maximizes expression of AcrAB multidrug resistance transporter.  Nucleic Acids Res. Oct 13. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx929. PMID: 29040729.

5.    Sharma P, Haycocks JRJ, Middlemiss AD, Kettles RA, Sellars LE, Ricci V, Piddock LJV, Grainger DC. (2017). The multiple antibiotic resistance operon of enteric bacteria controls of DNA repair and outer membrane integrity. Nat Commun. Nov 13;8(1): 1444. PMID: 29133912

6.   Bougnom BP, Piddock LJV. (2017). Wastewater for Urban Agriculture: A Significant Factor in Dissemination of Antibiotic Resistance. Environ Sci Technol. 2017 May 10. PMID: 28489349

7.   Årdal C, Baraldi E, Ciabuschi F, Outterson K, Rex JH, Piddock LJV, Findlay D; DRIVE-AB Steering Committee. To the G20: incentivising antibacterial research and development. Lancet Infect Dis. 2017 Jul 6. pii: S1473-3099(17)30404-8. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(17)30404-8. PMID:28689703

8.    Piddock LJV. (2017).  Understanding drug resistance will improve the treatment of bacterial infections. Nat Rev Microbiol. Oct 12; 15(11):639-640. PMID: 29021594.

9.    Weston N, Sharma P, Ricci V, Piddock LJV.  (2017). Regulation of the AcrAB-TolC efflux pump in Enterobacteriaceae.  Res Microbiol. Nov 8 pii: S0923-2508(17)30176-6. doi: 10.1016/j.resmic.2017.10.005.  PMID: 29128373.

10.    Wells V, Piddock LJV. Addressing antimicrobial resistance in the UK and Europe. Lancet Infect Dis. 2017 Nov 10. pii: S1473-3099(17)30633-3


Antibiotic resistance in bacteria

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Anti-microbial Resistance