We asked for antimicrobial chemists and scientists to entertain, edify, and enlighten sixth-form students, and other members of the public as part of a programme of events being run in Burlington House.
Well, we've picked our antimicrobial analysts, and infection-fighting inventors; let's meet them:
Rob Shorten: Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
Rob is a clinical scientist working in a joint diagnostic and research laboratory at the Royal Free/UCL in Hampstead. His research interest focuses on the evolution of antimicrobial resistance in tuberculosis.
We face the challenge of identifying resistant organisms in the community and healthcare settings on a daily basis and the associated clinical problems that this involves.
Mark Roberts: Queen Mary University, London
Mark is a biochemist working on bacterial signalling and cell division; the very foundations of antibiotic research. Previously, Mark has been involved in work on bacterial "sense of smell"; on how bacteria sense and respond to chemicals in their environment. His current research focus is the affect of cell division on these signalling pathways.
Why is that important I hear you cry? Well if you can "confuse" the signalling pathway this could result in a new antimicrobial treatment. One way we may disrupt them is to disrupt what happens when the cell divides.
Jess Bean: University of Bath
Jess is a third year PhD student at the University of Bath, and former I'm a Scientist: Get me out of here! champion, having won the Indium Zone in June. From a background in chemistry, she has moved into biology, as well as a little engineering. Her research group look at alternatives to antibiotics, and new ways of delivering them.
We work with the South-West Children’s Burn centre at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol on bacterial species that they find frequently in burn wound infections. My research is on bacterial viruses called bacteriophage (and bacteriophage enzymes), which kill bacteria but without the resistance problems found with antibiotics.
As a materials chemist, Jess's research group are looking at "smart" release systems, where the antimicrobials are released only when there is a bacterial infection present, preventing or slowing the onset of resistance.
Emma Newton: University College London
Emma does not consider herself a microbiologist, rather a chemist-cum-engineer. She is a PhD student at UCL looking at the detection of microbials using an "electronic nose"; design and building metal oxide semiconductor gas sensors, and developing a portable device which can be used in the field. Emma's main research area is security related, looking at obvious targets such as smallpox, but she is also looking at e.coli and s.aureus.
My heart lies in the detection of TB however where there is a great need for early-warning detection.
Clare Taylor: Edinburgh Napier University
My research is all about trying to harness the power of bacteria to act as Trojan horses in the battle against infection.
Clare is a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University. Salmonella has the ability to cleave human proteins inside the body, and one area Clare’s research group is working on looks at exploiting this to synthesise antibiotic "prodrugs" that would be cleaved by Salmonella itself, turning the "prodrug" into an active drug at the site of infection.
Booking and Information
Tickets to the I’m a Scientist: Live event at Burlington House, London Piccadilly — the last few remaining — can be booked on the RSC’s events page.
For more information on the I’m a Scientist: Live events being run this November, see this post: about.imascientist.org.uk/2013/im-a-scientist-live-drugs-bugs-and-infections/
The RSC have organised a range of events during the week, including a Forensic Science Event: Chemistry in Law Enforcement, aimed at 16–18 year-olds; and Materials Science in Surgery: Hip Detectives, aimed at 14–18 year-olds.
For more information on the RSC’s programme of events, contact Vicki Symington at: firstname.lastname@example.org