Mycobacterium tuberculosis is one of the most successful pathogens affecting humankind: around 9 million people develop tuberculosis every year, resulting in 1.4 million deaths. Most people mount an immune response that is sufficient to control initial infection but they remain susceptible to reinfection or reactivation disease in later life. Immunological evidence suggests that up to two billion people worldwide may harbour latent tuberculosis, with a ten percent lifetime risk of developing active disease. The development of improved drugs, diagnostics and vaccines is central to the WHO End-TB strategy, which aims by 2035 for a:
95% reduction in TB deaths compared with 2015.
90% reduction in TB incidence rate compared with 2015.
Zero TB-affected families facing catastrophic costs due to TB
The aim of our research is to understand the host-pathogen interactions underlying the complex biology of tuberculosis infection, and to exploit this understanding for development of improved tools for disease control. We use genome-based biology, taking advantage of the availability of mycobacterial sequence data, techniques for mutagenesis and expression profiling, and the natural diversity of clinical isolates. We are investigating different ways to deliver anti-TB drugs, the potential of anti-microbial peptides, and host-directed therapies to improve TB treatment. We are also analysing how mycobacteria grow and divide, using microfluidics-based single cell analysis and time-lapse video microscopy.
I am a founder member of the MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology and Infection, and the Centre for Integrative Systems Biology and Bioinformatics.
I make significant contributions to undergraduate teaching within the Faculty of Medicine and was awarded a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Learning and Teaching by the college in 2003. He is currently Topic leader for Infection and Immunity for Phase 1 of the MBBS programme and co-lead for the Targeting Antimicrobial Resistance module in year 3 of the BSc in Medical Biosciences. He is Director of the Wellcome Trust funded 4-year PhD programme in the Molecular and Cellular Basis of Infection, and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Tuberculosis.
et al., Genetic and pharmacological inhibition of inflammasomes reduces the survival of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains in macrophages, Scientific Reports, ISSN:2045-2322
et al., Ultra-short antimicrobial peptoids show propensity for membrane activity against multi-drug resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Frontiers in Microbiology, ISSN:1664-302X
Drickamer K, 2020, Mammalian lectin arrays for screening host–microbe interactions, Journal of Biological Chemistry, ISSN:0021-9258
et al., 2019, Galleria mellonella: a novel infection model for screening potential anti-mycobacterial compounds against members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, Frontiers in Microbiology, Vol:10, ISSN:1664-302X
et al., 2019, Use of the invertebrate Galleria Mellonella as an infection model to study the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, Jove-journal of Visualized Experiments, Vol:148, ISSN:1940-087X