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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 (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 (£3.2M SWON Alliance), CA, CHN ( £1M Accelerate CHNUK and recently £3M Integrate CHNUK ), 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 (£1M investment MDC) 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:

Radio 4 Drama with Val McDermid 'Resistance' 2017 and 2018

Shanghai 'Science as Art' exhibition 2017

'Pint of Science' Coventry 2018

MRC Millenium Medal 2017 Science Impact

UKRI Superheroes vs Superbugs live 2018 at the Science Museum 'Mega Magnification' with PhD students Hector Newman and Katie Smart

Channel 5 2017 AMR feature



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 News 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

Group 2013



Technical Support

Anita Catherwood

Julie Tod

John Moat - Director Warwick AMR screening facility

PhD Students

Koorosh Fatemian

Hector Newman

Abby Henney

Daniella Sordillo

Becca Steventon

Jonny Burnett

Jonny Whiteside

MSc Students

MBio students

Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr Laura Diaz

Dr Amanda Day Dowson

Senior Research Fellow

Dr Adrian Lloyd

Funding Sources

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



Academic UK

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

Rosalin Frankland 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 Prof Rick Lewis

Wellcome Trust Sanger Centre - Dr Steve Bentley

University of Liverpool - Prof Aras Kadioglu

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

Jilin University - Prof Xuming Deng


Micropathology Ltd

Astra Zeneca, Basilea, Cubist

Severn Trent



Bicycle Therapeutics Ltd.