I graduated from the University of Exeter in 2016 with a BSc. (Hons) in Biochemistry. I am now studying for a PhD in molecular microbiology in the Unnikrishnan group, focusing on a project titled ‘Dissecting host-pathogen interactions of Clostridium difficile’. I am part of the MIBTP doctoral training program which is funded by the BBSRC. This program provides students with a training year which includes courses in R programming, statistics, bioinformatics and more. I also completed a mini project at the University of Birmingham titled ‘The effect of transcription factor overexpression on the cell wall lipid composition in Mycobacterium smegmatis’. An industrial placement was also completed at Cell Therapy Sciences Ltd., where I worked as a data analyst, performing advanced statistical analyses on large datasets.
Clostridium difficile is a Gram-positive, spore-forming, anaerobic bacterium which is a major cause of hospital acquired diarrhoea. Infection is usually associated with antibiotic treatments which disrupt the gut’s microflora, allowing C. difficile to grow. Colonisation of the gut is a key determinant of disease outcome, although little is known about bacterial or host factors modulating interactions between C. difficile and the gut epithelium. Therefore, the aim of this project is to identify proteins and pathways which are required for host-pathogen interactions. Identification and functional analysis of proteins critical to C. difficile colonisation will enhance our understanding of clostridial pathogenesis and may lead to new interventions for CDI.