Dr, Senior Clinical Research Fellow
The main aim of my programme is to develop a vaccine reducing the burden of Staphylococcus aureus disease. Staphylococcus aureus is a common microorganism which is an important cause of infection in both the community and within hospitals. It colonises (lives without apparent ill effect to humans) the mucosal surfaces and bowel in about one third of the population, but can also cause serious invasive disease. Infections in pigs, cattle and chickens are also well recognised, and these animal diseases present economic and animal welfare challenges in agriculture. Some strains are resistant to methicillin (MRSA), and are in many setting a major driver of antibiotic use.
We are developing a S. aureus vaccine based on non-replicating adenoviral and modified Vaccinia Ankara viral vectors which incorporates novel protective antigens we have discovered, as part of the EU-funded BELLEROPHON project.
We understand rather poorly how the human population responds to S. aureus, and which responses are protective. This is potentially a problem for S. aureus vaccine development, as vaccines will be given to a partially immune population. To assist with this goal we are studying how S. aureus and the human immune system interact during carriage and disease, and how this relates to skin disease. This work is done in partnership with the Royal Navy.
We also understand poorly how the bacterium responds to the hostile environment of the host during infection. Claudia Lindemann (DPhil student, co-supervised by Dr Daniel Wilson, and supported by the EU Vactrain program) is looking both at how the bacterium responds to the host, using transcriptional profiling during infection.
Finally, I am continuing to study the epidemiology of S. aureus and MRSA at a population level, an ongoing activity in collaboration with Professors Crook and Peto and the Modernising Medical Microbiology initiative.