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Meet the speakers for the IOI ECR Conference 2023

Meet the speakers

Dr Catherine Tooke

Catherine Tooke completed her BSc and PhD at the University of Bristol with Professor Jim Spencer working on β-lactamase mediated antibiotic resistance using microbiology, biochemistry, structure determination and simulation. Following a career development award at Bristol, she’ll start as Prize fellow in antimicrobial resistance at the University of Bath in September where she’ll extend her work to characterise penicillin binding proteins.

Dr Ibrahim Ba

Ibrahim is a postdoctoral research associate at the Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, working with Professor Mark Holmes. He trained as a veterinarian and obtained a master’s degree in preventive veterinary medicine at Huazhong Agricultural University in China. Ibrahim moved to the UK in 2012 to pursue a PhD in bacterial infectious diseases at the University of Cambridge. His research interests lie in the field of antimicrobial resistance in bacterial pathogens of both human and veterinary importance. His current work focuses on investigating novel mechanisms of β-lactam resistance in Staphylococcus aureus and other staphylococcal species and exploring the potential of using β-lactam/β-lactamase inhibitor combination to treat infection caused by methicillin-resistant staphylococci. Ibrahim is currently working on the UKRI funded “DETECTIVE” project in collaboration with Chinese researchers to investigate the dissemination and resistance mechanisms of carbapenem-resistant Gram-negative bacilli.

Dr Lucy Brunton

Lucy is an epidemiologist with a background in microbiology. Having worked for seven years at the UK’s Animal and Plant Health Agency where she conducted epidemiological research in the areas of food-borne disease, AMR and bovine tuberculosis, she joined the RVC in February 2017. Her research focuses on understanding the molecular epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance and using One Health systems approaches to tackle this complex problem. She is particularly interested in the role that food animal production plays in contributing to the emergence and spread of AMR, and the increased burden of AMR on health and livelihoods in LMICs.

Dr Antonia Sagona

Antonia is a Reader (Associate Professor) in School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick.

She completed her PhD as an ENDOCYTE Marie-Curie Fellow in the lab of Professor Harald Stenmark in Oslo Medical School- Institute for Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital in 2012. She then obtained an EMBO long term fellowship and moved to Warwick Medical School. Following that, she obtained a BBSCR Future Leader Fellowship in 2016 and initiated her lab in School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick.

The Sagona lab is interested in understanding the mechanisms of bacterial infection and phage therapy inside the mammalian cell environment. The interest in phage therapy has grown increasingly over the past decade, due to the emerging problem of antibiotic resistance in many bacterial pathogens since bacteriophages can be used as alternative antimicrobial agents. Bacteriophages are safe for humans and present high specificity to their bacterial target, while having minimal side effects. However, there are still concerns for phage therapy, over the potential for immune responses, rapid toxin release by the lytic action of phages and difficulty of dose determination in clinical situations. Additionally, there is little knowledge of the cell biology behind phage therapy. The lab try to address all these concerns and achieve a better understanding of how phages interact with bacteria in human cell environment. They are also interested in the development of new methods that will enable bacteriophages to be used as reliable diagnostics of bacterial infection.

Dr Stephen Cochrane

Stephen Cochrane earned his undergraduate degree from Queen's University Belfast (QUB) in 2010. He then moved to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to complete a PhD under the guidance of John Vederas at the University of Alberta, where he focused on structural and mechanistic studies on antimicrobial peptides, namely the tridecaptins. In 2016 he returned to the UK to take up a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship at Oxford University, supervised by Benjamin G. Davis, on a project developing novel therapeutics against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. He commenced his independent career at QUB in 2017 and is currently a Reader in Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology. His research focuses on the development and study of novel antimicrobials and antimicrobial targets. In 2023, he was awarded a UKRI Frontier Research Guarantee Grant (neé ERC Starting Grant) for a project focused on discovery if novel antimicrobials that target bacterial glycolipids.

Dr Claas Kirchhelle

Claas is a historian of 'bugs and drugs'. Based at University College Dublin, he researches the history of microbial environments, infectious disease, and the development, marketing, and regulation of antibiotics and vaccines.

Since completing his DPhil at the University of Oxford in 2015, Claas has authored three books (see below) on the history of antibiotics in food production (Pyrrhic Progress, 2020), animal welfare, science, and activism (Bearing Witness, 2021), and typhoid control (Typhoid, 2022).

Policy & Public Engagement is an important part of his work. Claas' research has informed multiple national and international policy reviews on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), laboratory based public health surveillance, and adverse effect compensation. His work has been cited in high-level international reports on AMR and he is the author of an expert report on UK public health systems and pandemic preparedness for the UK COVID-19 Inquiry. He has also co-curated two multi award-winning exhibitions on the history of penicillin (Back from the Dead) and typhoid (Typhoidland). I have also advised on radio and theatre plays includiing (Dangerous Visions: Culture, BBC Radio 4), published in international print media, featured in major TV documentaries (Coronavirus Explained, Netflix), and given interviews for multiple national and international broadcasters.

Dr Elita Jauneikaite

Dr Elita Jauneikaite is an Advanced Research Fellow in Bacterial Genomics and Epidemiology at the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College London. She completed her PhD at the University of Southampton and the Genome Institute of Singapore before moving to Imperial College as a postdoctoral researcher and then a Research Fellow. Currently, Elita is the Research Lead for the Priority Pathogens theme at the National Institute of Health Research Health Protection Research Unit in Healthcare Associated Infection and Antimicrobial Resistance at Imperial College London.

Elita’s research focuses on evolution, transmission and antimicrobial resistance of vaccine preventable, and healthcare associated bacterial infections. As her major research programme, Elita is investigating the disease-causing Group B Streptococcus (GBS) using large-scale genomic epidemiology in both high- and low-income country settings, bioinformatic analyses and molecular biology techniques to inform on evolution, mother-to-baby transmission, and emergence of antimicrobial resistance patterns of this pathogen. As Research Lead for Priority Pathogens, Elita leads genomics work investigating healthcare associated infections, as well as outbreaks and pathogenicity of a range of bacterial pathogens including E. coli, K. pneumoniae, carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales, staphylococcal and streptococcal species.

Dr Tess Johnson

Dr Tess Johnson is a GLIDE postdoctoral researcher on the ethics of pandemic preparedness, surveillance and response. She is based at the Ethox Centre, University of Oxford. Her particular focuses are on the ethics of antimicrobial stewardship interventions, and preparations for natural- and engineered- pathogen pandemics. She takes a collectivist ethical approach to policy surrounding population coercion to achieve public health goals. Previously, Tess completed a DPhil in Philosophy at the University of Oxford (2022) on the topic of the ethics of human enhancement.

Prof Diane Ashiru-Oredope

Professor Diane Ashiru-Oredope is Lead Pharmacist for healthcare associated infections (HCAI) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) at UK Health Security Agency and Deputy Chief Scientist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. She is Honorary Chair and Professor of Pharmaceutical Public Health at University of Nottingham

An antimicrobial pharmacist by background, Diane has led several projects that have shaped national and international policy in tackling antimicrobial resistance, including creating the global Antibiotic Guardian campaign in 2014 and co-leading the development and implementation of Start Smart then Focus AMS toolkit for secondary care. From 2016 until March 2022, she was advisor and Global AMR lead for the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association.