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Better understanding bacterial behaviour


Dr Emma Denham, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Infection at Warwick Medical School, and Dr Chrystala Constantinidou, Principle Research Fellow, received a joint award for their work on understanding the behaviour of specific bacteria, and identifying the processes that allow the bacteria to grow. Through identifying and targeting particular molecular 'meeting points', it would be possible to develop new antibiotics to prevent bacterial growth and the spread of disease.

This 'meeting point' has already been identified in E.Coli and other bacteria, and this study will look specifically at two types of bacteria where this 'meeting point' hasn't yet been found - Campylobacter jejuni and Bacillus subtilis.

Emma and Chrystala have developed molecular tools to study bacterial behaviour, and their research into B. subtilis is already achieving results. The pair will use this to develop tools for investigating the behaviour of C. jejuni, a bacteria about which little is currently known.

Emma and Chrystala explained their long-term aspirations for the research:

Understanding how bacteria function is of huge importance. We live in a period of time where increasing our understanding of cell biology is likely to increase our range of potential targets for the development of desperately needed new antimicrobials. Developing the molecular tools for the project will also be of substantial use in other research areas, and a huge breakthrough in bacterial cell biology."

A chance to take risks

The Philanthropy Awards are designed to support early career researchers, who might otherwise struggle to find funding. Chrystala explained why the awards are important:

These type of awards are important because it allows people like Emma and myself to obtain money to develop projects that are maybe a bit higher risk."

Emma added:

I'd like to say thank you very much. You've given us a tremendous opportunity and I hope that you're happy with the results that we will bring about in the future with this research."