Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Dr Antonia Sagona



Phone: 024 765 23102

Office: B144

Sagona webpage

Research Clusters

Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (Co-Lead)

Cells & Development

Quantitative, Systems & Engineering Biology

Warwick Centres and GRPs

Warwick Integrative Synthetic Biology Centre

Warwick Antimicrobial Interdisciplinary Centre

Monash Warwick Alliance

Vacancies and Opportunities

For PhD and postdoctoral opportunities and interest in potential collaborations, please contact me at the above email address.

Research Interests

In my lab, we are interested in understanding the mechanisms of bacterial infection and phage therapy inside the mammalian cell environment. Bacteriophages or phages are viruses that have great specificity towards targeting their host bacteria and thus can be used as therapeutics to tackle bacterial infections, what we define as phage therapy. The interest in phage therapy has grown increasingly over the past decade, due to the emerging problem of antibiotic resistance in many bacterial pathogens. A major challenge to patient safety is the hospital infections due to gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria resistant to antibiotics. One of the possible solutions to this problem is the use of bacteriophages as antimicrobial agents. Bacteriophages are safe for humans and present high specificity to their bacterial target, while having minimal side effects. However, there are still concerns for phage therapy, over the potential for immune responses, rapid toxin release by the lytic action of phages and difficulty of dose determination in clinical situations. Additionally, there is little knowledge of the cell biology behind phage therapy due to the challenges in the field and that is an obstacle in the rapid progress of phage therapy. We try in the lab to address all these concerns and achieve a better understanding of how phages interact with bacteria in human cell environment. We are also interested in the development of new methods that will enable bacteriophages to be used as reliable diagnostics of bacterial infection.

Research: Technical Summary

Specific aims of the lab include the investigation of the cell biological mechanisms behind bacterial infection and phage therapy and the optimization of phages to be safe for phage therapy or other applications. To do that, we have established an in vitro novel model system for phage therapy in mammalian cells. We have expanded this system, with the use of different mammalian cell lines, that mimic the tissues that relate to different diseases caused by the pathogens that we study. This system, with proper validation, can be used for further in vivo studies, as a promising proof of concept for safe phage therapy, which can treat various human infections.

The main objectives of our research are the following:

  • To engineer optimized phages, with the preferred characteristics depending on the downstream application, specifically targeting the pathogens of interest.
  • To understand the cell biology aspects of bacterial infection and phage therapy in a mammalian cell environment.
  • To expand this system further in in vivo studies and in other organisms.
  • To use bacteriophages as potential diagnostics of infection

For our research, we use confocal and advanced live microscopy, advanced molecular biology methods, including CRISPR/Cas9, biochemical, microbiology approaches and synthetic biology.


Journals: I have reviewed for multiple journals, including amongst other: Microorganisms, Viruses, Critical Reviews in Microbiology, mBio (ASM), PHAGE, Nature Biotechnology, Trends in Microbiology, BMC Microbiology.

Grants: BBSRC Future Leader Fellowships, BBSRC Responsive Mode grants, external FLF observer in BBSRC Responsive Mode Committee, Rosetrees Trust Foundation, Lister Prize Fellowships, French National Research Agency (ANR), MRC Fellowships, MRC Responsive Mode grants, UKRI Future Leader Fellowships, BBSRC Discovery Fellowships. I am a Member of UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships Peer Review College and others.

Professional Organization Membership
  • Microbiology Society
  • British Society of Cell Biology
  • Royal Society of Biology
  • I am also member of the BBSRC Fellows network, EMBO Fellows network and Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting Alumni.

  • Reader of Infection and Microbiology, 2023-current
  • Associate Professor of Infection and Microbiology, 2020 – 2023
  • BBSRC Future Leader Fellow, School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, 2016-2019
    Assistant Professor, 2017-2020
  • Research Fellow, School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, 2015-2016
  • EMBO long term post-doctoral Research Fellow, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, UK 2013-2015
  • PhD (Endocyte-Marie Curie Fellow), Centre for Cancer Biomedicine, Medical School, University of Oslo,Norway 2007-2012
  • MSc Microbial Biotechnology, University of Athens, Greece 2005
  • BSc University of Athens, Greece 2003