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Dr Chiara Borsetto

Job Title
Research Fellow
Life Sciences
+44(0)24 7657 5874
Research Interests

My research interests have always been related to the field of antibiotics and in my studies, I look at different aspects including antimicrobial resistance and drug discovery.

PROJECT: Resolving the fate and studying the impact of pharmaceutical wastes on the environment and local community of a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub (NERC funded)

Antibiotic manufacturing is an important industry in India and employs a large number of workers. As with all manufacturing industries, waste is produced, raising concerns for the environmental impact of the release of active antimicrobial residues. In collaboration with our colleagues in India, the RESPHARM project aims at assessing the impact of pharmaceutical manufacturing waste on both the environment and human health. Samples will be collected from two sites in India: the first site characterized by the presence of several pharmaceutical manufacturing industries and the second site located in an area not affected by manufacturing hubs. Antibiotic concentrations will be monitored in environmental samples and their impact on the microbial population will be examined by metagenomic analysis. Particular attention will be given to the detection and characterization of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) of clinical importance and isolation of resistant bacteria. The impact of exposure on the human population will also be assessed. Environmental and human exposure data will be integrated for the development of mathematical risk models to determine optimal strategies to mitigate exposure to bioactive pollutants.

PROJECT: Novel bioactive metabolites from soil Bacteroidetes.

Another aspect of my research focuses on the characterisation of novel antimicrobial compounds. Recent work in our lab showed that previously underexploited bacterial groups, such as Bacteroidetes, have the potential for secondary metabolites. However, environmental isolates have not been yet experimentally characterised for their potential for novel natural products. In collaboration with the Department of Chemistry, part of my research focuses on the characterization of the antimicrobial resistance profile and the antibiotic production potential of soil-dwelling bacterial isolates belonging to the phylum of Bacteroidetes.

Recently completed project: Chicken or the Egg: Is AMR in the Environment Driven by Dissemination of Antibiotics or Antibiotic Resistance Genes? (NERC funded)

In collaboration with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and University of Exeter, we studied the selective pressure exerted by low concentrations of antimicrobial agents on enriching and promoting ARG persistence and movement into the microbial community in riverine habitats. We used in situ flumes (in the river), lab replicated river microcosms (e.g. flumes) and a combination of techniques including high-throughput qPCR, metagenomic and metaproteomic to monitor changes in in the microbial community under selective pressure of different antibiotics. We also used enrichment cultures to better understand the turnover and biodegradation of these xenobiotics in the environment, which can play an important role as mechanism of resistance to these compounds.


PhD (2017), University of Warwick, UK

MSc in Molecular and Industrial Biotechnology (2013), University of Insubria, Italy

BSc in Biotechnology (2010), University of Insubria, Italy

Title Funder Award start Award end
Resolving the fate and studying the impact of pharmaceutical wastes on the environment and local community of a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub NERC 01 Oct 2020 30 Sep 2023

Research Themes:

Environmental Bioscience