BioCoatings: painting bacteria on surfaces for sustainable processes
I got a glimpse of life at the single cell level using my first microscope for my 10th birthday and was (Leuwen)hooked. During my Masters in Immunology at the University of Birmingham I became interested in the complex immune response to Tuberculosis (TB) and spent my PhD researching how the bacteria that causes TB, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) can survive and live within our own immune cells which should kill them. I moved to the University of British Columbia, Canada, to continue working on this key interaction and whilst there we discovered a mechanism by which virulent Mtb can manipulate host cell death (Journal of Immunology).
To look from the side of the pathogen aswell as the host, I moved to Professor Jacob Jnr's laboratory at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York to learn cutting edge mycobacterial genetics. During my time there as a Howard Hughes funded fellow we elucidated the primary attenuating deletion mechanism of BCG (published in PNAS, cited over 500 times), developed a mutant classification system (Nature Immunology) and took Bill's student's phage hunting in the Bronx zoo. Whilst in New York, I also interned at the Nature Medicine office in the Immunology and Infection section.
At Imperial College London we tried to try to uncover whether Mtb is dormant (doubtful!) and utilised patient samples to elucidate virulence mechanisms and to uncover the importance of mixed TB infections (published in Emerging Infectious Diseases and NEJM). My move to Surrey was to work in the McFadden lab on many multi-disciplinary projects before setting up my own lab working on TB. Our aim is to understand this complex human disease and to find innovative ways of curtailing this global health threat. Successful awards include the Wellcome Trust valued person award, a current multi-council AMR innovation grant and several multidisciplinary EPSRC project grants.