Group Overview

The Group takes a multidisciplinary approach to investigating a range of biological problems ranging from basic biology to prototype translational projects.  There are several areas of research within the group which centers around the study of human pathogens with an overall aim at understanding microbial disease processes and exploiting the knowledge we generate for translational purposes wherever possible.

One of main focuses over the last few years has centered on studying virulence mechanisms of periodontal pathogens, and in particular the Gram-negative anaerobic species, mainly Tannerella forsythia (pictured) and Porphyromonas gingivalis that are involved in the common disease periodontitis, estimated to affect 700 million people worldwide.  However, most of the processes which we study in these bacteria are relevant to a range of human pathogenic bacteria with wide-ranging microbiological implications.

Research areas: please follow links to investigate further

Microbial Glycobiology- We have focused on the role of glycans and sialic acid in periodontal pathogen, uncovering novel mechanisms, enzymes and characterising them with a view to designing new interventions.  This work often involves molecular, biochemical and increasingly structural biology of bacterial enzymes involved in their in vivo physiology.

Bacterial- host interactions-  We continue an interest in host-pathogen interactions with ongoing work on the role of surface proteins of P. gingivalis and of glycosidase enzymes and inhibitors in cellular interactions and of non-coding RNAs and glycobiology in the host-response to infection and in Biofilm.  We also have ongoing work on the role of microbes and glycobiology in the area of pre-term birth and on Flagellin glycosylation.

Antimicrobials- Focussing on plant-derived antimicrobials, enzyme inhibitors and phage biology of oral bacteria.

Biotechnology/ Synthetic Biology- Focussing on applying knowledge of bacterial protein secretion (FT3SS) and understanding and applying data on biomedical protein production in E.coli and in the real world- such as FOG blockages in wastewater with colleagues in Chemical and Biological Engineering Civil Engineering, MBB and industry

The group  employ a variety of genetic and biochemical techniques while in collaboration with colleagues across the University of Sheffield, UK and the world.  We also apply a range of biophysical, biochemical and proteomic techniques to answer key questions within our areas of interest.