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Professor Christopher Dowson

Job Title
Life Sciences
Research Interests

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.


BSc (hons) Applied Biology, Bath University 1982.

PhD Microbiology, Bath University 1988
Web page
BACWAN Synthesis facility

Title Funder Award start Award end
MRC UK China Hubs MRC 01 Jan 2019 31 Dec 2021
Mechanistic understanding of cell wall biosynthesis to combat antimicrobial resistance: Cell Wall AMR MRC 01 Jul 2015 28 Feb 2021
Sulbactam cefepime (ANTRUK) Antibiotic Research UK 02 Jan 2020 31 Dec 2020
Science City TM1 Clinical Trials (Warwick-led) - Inter Institutional Agreement Advantage West Midlands 01 Aug 2009 31 Jul 2019
Accelerate CHNUK AMR discovery: Establishing and exploiting a joint China/UK platform to enable high throughput fragment based inhibitor discovery MRC 01 Jul 2016 30 Jun 2019
Research Project on Penicillin (WCPRS) Micropathology Limited 05 Oct 2015 04 Apr 2019
Developing the next generation of beta-lactamase inhibitors and monobactum antibiotics - GCRF network grant Academy of Medical Sciences 28 Jan 2018 27 Jan 2019
Cell wall biosynthesis ? a structural and biochemical characterization of penicillin-binding-proteins Lister summer studentship for Anna Schorfield Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine 02 Jul 2018 07 Sep 2018
Multi-Targetting of tRNA synthetases: A paradigm shift in combating AMR MRC 01 Mar 2015 30 Nov 2017
Development of orally active analogs of Teixobactin Gates Foundation 08 Feb 2017 31 Oct 2017
Cell wall biosynthesis in Yersinia pestis ? a structural and biochemical characterization of penicillin-binding-proteins (Lister Summer Studentship for Rachel Evans) Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine 10 Jul 2017 01 Sep 2017
Enabling novel penicillin-binding-protein high throughput screens Wellcome Trust 01 Jul 2016 30 Jun 2017
International exploitation of new reagents and assays for antibiotic discovery BBSRC 03 May 2015 02 May 2016
FLIP: Enabling exploitation of novel reagents and assays (EnRgy) BBSRC 24 Feb 2014 23 Feb 2016
Team CanUK: Novel antibacterial targets, assays, probes and opportunities in bacterial cell wall biogenesis MRC 01 Jan 2012 31 Dec 2015
Development of assays and reagents in the final steps of peptidoglycan. AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP 01 Oct 2013 31 Dec 2015
BBSRC Link with Astra Zeneca:Reagents and assays to exploit the final steps of peptidoglycan construction BBSRC 01 Aug 2013 31 Jul 2015
Optimisation of anaerobic digestion (process monitoring) Guy and Wright Limited 01 Feb 2010 30 Jun 2015
Support for Chris Dowson Research - Medical & Life Sciences Research Fund Medical and Life Sciences Research Fund 01 Dec 2013 31 Jul 2014
The biochemical characterisation of pivotal enzymes involved in mycobacterial peptidoglycan biosynthesis Birmingham-Warwick PG grant MRC 01 May 2011 30 Apr 2014
Concordance in Diabetic Foot Ulceration - CODIFI (lead: University of Leeds) National Institute for Health Research (DoH) 01 Apr 2011 30 Sep 2013
Unesco- loreal Visiting Fellowship for Vita Majce UNESCO 01 May 2012 30 Apr 2013
Inter-Institutional Agreement Science City TM2 Experimental Medicine (Birmingham-led) Advantage West Midlands 20 Jul 2009 31 Mar 2012
Match funding for Chris Dowson Micropathology donation Higher Education Funding Council for England 01 Feb 2010 31 Jan 2011
Funding for Medical Research Fund Arden Fellow - Adam Baldwin Micropathology Limited 01 Aug 2008 31 Oct 2010
Medical Research Fund Arden Fellowship - Support for Elli Pinnock Micropathology Limited 01 Oct 2009 17 Sep 2010
UKCan - BACWAN MRC 01 Aug 2009 30 Apr 2010
UK BACWAN 2 University of Sheffield 01 May 2008 30 Apr 2010
CASE STUDENTSHIP - Eleanor Pinnock Micropathology Limited 01 Oct 2006 30 Sep 2009
TIME EXTENSION ONLY - Indistinguishability Analysis for Model Discrimination in Systems Biology: A Feasibility Study Applied to Bacterial Peptidoglycan Biosynthesis EPSRC 01 May 2009 31 Jul 2009
Indistinguishability Analysis for Model Discrimination in Systems Biology: A Feasibility Study Applied to Bacterial Peptidoglycan Biosynthesis EPSRC 01 Apr 2007 31 Mar 2009
Indistinguishability Analysis for Model Discrimination in Systems Biology: A Feasibility Study Applied to Bacterial Peptidoglycan Biosynthesis EPSRC 01 Apr 2007 31 Mar 2009
Purchase of Kinetic Spectrophotometer Eveson Charitable Trust 01 Feb 2008 31 Jan 2009
Funding for Medical Research Fund Arden Fellow - Adam Baldwin Micropathology Limited 01 Nov 2008 31 Jan 2009
Comparative Virulence of Clinical, Industrial and Environmental Isolates of the Opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas Auruginosa - SGM summer studentship Society for General Microbiology 21 Jul 2008 12 Sep 2008
Funding for Medical Research Fund Arden Fellow - Adam Baldwin Micropathology Limited 01 May 2008 31 Jul 2008
UK - BaCWAN: UK-Bacterial Cell Wall Assembly Network MRC 01 Apr 2006 31 Mar 2008
Exploration and Exploitation of the Enzymology of PBP Driven Peptidoglycan Biosynthesis to Discover Novel Non-beta Lactam Antibiotics MRC 01 Mar 2005 29 Feb 2008
Expanding global databases for CF pathogens burkholderia cepacia complex and pseudomonas aeruginosa in order to investigate emerging infections. Cystic Fibrosis Trust 01 Feb 2007 31 Jan 2008
MLST Characterisation of Burkholeria cepacia complex orgnaisms Unilever 26 Oct 2007 31 Dec 2007
Screening for 21st Century cell wall inhibitors active against hospital acquired bacterial infections Medical Research Fund of Warwick 01 Jun 2007 30 Nov 2007
Molecular Physiology and structural analysis of the innate immune system triggered by bacterial cell wall components British Pharmacological Society 01 Oct 2004 30 Sep 2007
CASE Studentship: Frances Bolt Micropathology Limited 01 Oct 2004 30 Sep 2007
Admin Support - Developing rapid diagnostic tools for the control of infectious disease WPH Charitable Trust 01 Oct 2004 30 Sep 2007
Students into work application - vacation studentship for Duncan Hope Society for Applied Microbiology 09 Jul 2007 14 Sep 2007
Burkholderia Cepacia Complex Isolates from Industrial Origins Unilever UK Central Resources Limited 01 Oct 2006 31 Jan 2007
Multi locus sequence typing, rapid identification, evoluction and gene flux within Burkholderia cepacia complex isolates. Wellcome Trust 03 Jan 2004 31 Dec 2006
Student Research Training Project South Warwickshire General Hospitals NHS Trust 07 Nov 2005 06 Nov 2006
Screening for 21st century cell wall inhibitors active against hospital acquired bacterial infections Medical Research Fund of Warwick 01 Jan 2006 30 Sep 2006
Purchase of Electronic Noses via MRF Eveson Charitable Trust 21 Oct 2005 20 Sep 2006
Undergraduate Vacation Bursary: Psuedomonas in Mushrooms; Pathogenicity Assessments. British Society for Plant Pathology 11 Jul 2006 04 Sep 2006
Bridging Award for Dr Sehra Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 01 Jun 2005 31 May 2006
Genetic Diversity and Gene Expression in Pseudomonas Aeruginosa - Barry Curran Micropathology Limited 01 Oct 2002 30 Sep 2005
Developing a multilocus sequence typing scheme to characterise the causative agent of acne, Propionibacterium acnes Society for General Microbiology 27 Jun 2005 19 Aug 2005
Contribution to BBSRC case award (Barry Curran)Genetic and Phenotypic Diversity of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust 01 Apr 2003 31 Mar 2005
The Characterisation and Activities of Compylobacter Jejuni and Listeria Monocylogenes Bacteriophage - CASE Award - James Taylor Biotek Limited 02 Oct 2000 30 Sep 2003