The main research goal of our group is to understand the molecular mechanisms of how microorganisms cause disease.
In particular we are interested in key virulence traits of bacteria that allow them to establish infections and persist within the host and the environment. We take a multidisciplined approach in our research and use a range of complementary structural biology procedures (X-ray crystallography, solution state NMR and SAXS) coupled with cellular, biochemical and other biophysical techniques.
A major research theme that links our work is the study of biofilms. A biofilm is a community of microorganisms (single or multiple species) encased in a self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substance (DNA, proteins, lipids, polysaccharides). This matrix protects the inhabitants from radiation damage, dehydration, pH fluctuations and antimicrobial compounds.
Specific research that is being undertaken in the group include studying the formation of bacterial biofilms, understanding the mechanisms that bacteria use to transport substrates (toxins and effectors for example) into the extracellular milieu and deciphering the structure-function relationship of these substrates and how they infer virulence. With these studies we aim to identify novel drug targets that can be exploited in the fight against emerging antibacterial resistance. To read more about these projects please click here.