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Infectious disease

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 (MLSRFLink opens in a new window) and the national antibiotic discovery charity Antibiotic Research UK (ANTRUK)Link opens in a new window 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 (£3.2M SWON AllianceLink opens in a new window), CA, CHN ( £1M Accelerate CHNUKLink opens in a new window and recently £3M Integrate CHNUK ), US, SA (H3DLink opens in a new window), 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 Link opens in a new windowplatform 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 (£1M investment MDCLink opens in a new window) at Warwick and the increasingly successful 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.

  Outreach and impact activities:

AMR global policy dialogue output 2022:

Radio 4 Drama with Val McDermid 'ResistanceLink opens in a new window' 2017 and 2018

Shanghai 'Science as Art'Link opens in a new window exhibition 2017

'Pint of ScienceLink opens in a new window' Coventry 2018

MRC Millenium Medal 2017 Science Impact

UKRI Superheroes vs Superbugs live 2018 at the Science Museum 'Mega MagnificationLink opens in a new window' with PhD students Hector NewmanLink opens in a new window and Katie SmartLink opens in a new window

Channel 5 2017 AMR featureLink opens in a new window

logoLink opens in a new window


Antibiotic resistance and drug discovery video link



Centenary video link Flemming to Dowson and Roper

Contribution to global AMR reports O'Neil Pew Trust

Support for Warwick PG synthesis facility

AMR news report

CANUK Team grant NewsLink opens in a new window April CANUK team meeting, part of larger GRC Barga, Italy

Coventry General Charities visit to the Lab

Coventry General Charities with the groupCoventry General Charities visit to the lab




Technical and Research Support

Anita Catherwood

Julie Tod

John Moat - Director Warwick AMR screening facility

Dr Abby Henney - Warwick AMR Screening facility

PhD Students

Daniella Sordillo

Becca Steventon

Jonny Burnett

Jonny Whiteside

MSc Students

MBio students

Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr Laura Diaz

Dr Amanda Day Dowson

Dr Hector Newman

Dr Koorosh Fatemian

Senior Research Fellow

Dr Adrian Lloyd

Funding and Support Sources Past and Present

Research Councils


Newton Fund MRC / NSFC







Micropathology Ltd

Unilever UK

Sarissa Ltd

Millenium Inc.


Astra Zeneca






Regional Development Agency

Advantage West Midlands: Birmingham Science City


Charities and Philanthropy

Coventry General Charities

Antibiotic Research UK



Academic UK

Harwell Diamond Light Source - Dr Martin Walsh, Prof Frank Von Delft, Dr Catherine McAuley

Rosalind Franklin Institute- Prof Jim Naismith

Oxford University - Prof Chris Schofield

Birmingham University - Prof Del Besra, Dr Luke Alderwick

Heartlands Hospital - Dr David Honeybourne

Leeds University - Prof Colin Fishwick, Prof Steve Evans, Dr Andrea Nelson

Sheffield University - Prof Simon Foster

Sussex University - Prof Gerry Bloom Dr Michael Hopkins Dr Lewis Hussain

Newcastle University - Prof Waldemar Vollmer

Wellcome Trust Sanger Centre - Dr Steve Bentley

University of Liverpool - Prof Aras Kadioglu

UCL, Chemistry - Prof Matt Tod

University of Warwick

Dept of Engineering - Professor Julian Gardner, Dr Mike Chappell, Dr Neil Evans

Dept of Chemistry - Professor Peter Sadler, Professor Mark Rodger, Professor Tim Bugg, Dr Jozef Lewandowski, Dr Andy Marsh, Dr David Fox, Dr Chris Corre

Department of Physics - Professor Rudo Roemer, Professor Stephen Brown

School of Life Sciences - Prof David Roper, Dr Allister Crow

Academic overseas

Laval University, Quebec - Prof Roger Levesque

McMaster - Hamilton - Prof Eric Brown, Prof Lori Burrows

MLW Blantyre Malawi -Dean Everett

UBC Vancouver - Prof Natalie Strydnaka

University of Guelph - Prof Anthony Clarke

Monash University - Dr Sheena McGowan and Dr Ashley Buckle

CAS Shanghai Materia Medica - Prof Jianmin Yue, Prof Ciaguang Yang, Prof Lefan Lu

SSRF Shanghai Synchrotron- Jianhua He

Xiamen University - Dr Aidong Han

UCT H3D South Africa - Prof Kelly Chibale

NorthEastern University, Boston - Prof Lori Ferrins


Micropathology Ltd

Astra Zeneca, Basilea, Cubist

Severn Trent



Bicycle Therapeutics Ltd.