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Emma Denham

Job Title
Assistant Professor
WMS - Microbiology and Infection
024 7657 2552
Web Link
Research Interests

My main research interest lies in how bacteria regulate events within their lifestyles, with a particular interest in how this is done through the use of non-coding RNAs. Bacillus subtilis expresses over 1500 ncRNAs (Nicolas et al., 2012), which are often condition dependent and lie in different categories (independent segments, antisenses and untranslated regions). The challenge lies in determining how these ncRNAs function (i.e. what are they regulating) and the manner in which they are doing it. My work will focus on the model organism B. subtilis as it is one of the few Gram-positive species that is highly genetically manipulable. However, it will be expanded to other Gram-positive species where ncRNAs will be identified, the conditions determined under which they are expressed and systems developed to determine their targets. I also plan to continue developing my interest in how bacteriocins kill their bacterial target species.


I graduated from the University of Leicester with a BSc in Genetics. Having discovered a passion for microbiology in the year I spent at the University of the Algarve, Portugal in the lab of Leonor Faleiro, investigating autolysins in Helicobacter pylori, I moved to the then Institute for Animal Health, Compton, UK. Under the supervision of Jamie Leigh (now at the Nottingham Vet School) and Phil Ward (now at Oxford) I completed my PhD, investigating the lipoprotein processing enzymes in Streptococcus uberis. After completion of my PhD I moved to the lab of Jan Maarten van Dijl, University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands for my post-doctoral period. I switched bacterial species again, studying the Gram-positive model organism Bacillus subtilis and the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. I was involved in several EU consortia, including BaSysBio and BaSynthec and became interested in all levels of regulation. Through studying B. subtilis gene expression in real time using Live Cell Array technology, Time-lapse microscopy and Tiling arrays, I identified several novel aspects of genetic regulation. I also developed an interest in the mechanisms bacteriocins use to kill their target organisms. In May 2013 I joined the Division of Microbiology and Infection, Warwick Medical School as an Assistant Professor of Molecular Bacteriology.

Title Funder Award start Award end
Understanding the Role of Small Regulatory RNAs in the Gram-Positive Model Organism Bacillus Subtilis BBSRC 01 Jul 2014 31 Jan 2018
Noreen Murray Award: Understanding the function and dynamicsof bacterial non-coding RNAs University of Warwick (Donation) 01 Mar 2014 30 Jun 2015