Antibiotic resistance, bacterial pathogenicity and population genetics are our three major (often interlocking) areas of research into a range of human and animal pathogens. Understanding the molecular basis for the evolution of antibiotic resistance and virulence will help to predict how novel targets will respond to the selective pressures imposed by new chemotherapeutic agents or vaccination.
Professor Chris G Dowson (School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, UK) has, for many years, examined the emergence and evolution of antibiotic resistance across a wide range of bacteria. His recent focus has been to better understand how penicillin targets bacteria. This began during his postdoctoral time at the University of Sussex, in the laboratory of Professor Spratt (1986-1990) and subsequently with his Lister Institute Centenary Fellowship (1991-1996). He currently holds a personal chair at Warwick University and is a recent past member of the Medical Research Council Infections and Immunity Board. He has established the Warwick Antimicrobial Interdisciplinary Centre WAMIC, the location of the Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) Laboratory facility at Warwick and has been involved with philanthropic research fundraising regionally across Warwickshire for the past 16 years with the Medical and Life Sciences Research Fund MLSRF and the national antibiotic discovery charity Antibiotic Research UK ANTRUK where he is a Trustee and Chair of the Scientific Committee.
Chris' research is funded by BBSRC, EPSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust and industry. It is highly collaborative, involving teams of biologists, chemists, engineers and physicists across universities in the UK SWON Alliance CA, CHN Accelerate CHUNK US, SA H3D, EU, AUS to help drive innovations from this research forward to a commercial outcome, which includes the use of high throughput structural determination using the XChem platform at Diamond Light source and virtual reality to visualize antibiotic: target protein interactions. Industry partners past and present include AstraZeneca, Basilea, Bicycle Tx, Cubist, Merck, Novartis, Novobiotic, GSK and supported in AMR SME engagement with the Medicines Discovery Catapult MDC at Warwick and the Antimicrobial Screening Facility at Warwick>
Abstract for current research:
The development of new reagents and new assays are crucial underpinning technologies enabling a multi-target focus to antibiotic discovery, with priorities in peptidoglycan biosynthesis and protein biosynthesis (aminoacyl tRNA synthetases, aaRS). The focus of his research is peptidoglycan biosynthesis as an enduringly attractive target or antibiotic discovery, including the multi-targeting of penicillin-binding proteins and Mur ligases.
Population genetics underpins our understanding of the spatial and temporal structure of bacterial populations, as well as phylogenetic relationships and rates of evolution. All of these are key issues if we are to understand the epidemiology of resistance or virulence within a population, and all the more if we want to identify stable targets for vaccination or chemotherapy, or identify important strains of bacteria associated with the disease.