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Dissecting the molecular mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens

Faculty of Biological Sciences

About the Project

Antibiotics make possible the treatment and cure of life-threatening bacterial infections. Since their introduction in the middle years of the 20th Century, they have added ~10 years to the human lifespan, and have become a cornerstone of modern medicine. Unfortunately, the utility of these agents is being rapidly eroded as pathogenic bacteria evolve to resist their effects. Compounding the issue, in the last 50 years only two truly novel antibiotic classes have been developed for treating serious bacterial infection. If this problem is not addressed as a matter of urgency, 300 million people worldwide are expected to die prematurely between now and 2050, and antimicrobial resistance will overtake cancer as a cause of death.

The O’Neill laboratory at Leeds is actively pursuing several complementary approaches to better understand and address this phenomenon, and has a particular focus on understanding the mechanisms that allow ’superbugs’ to resist the effects of antibiotics. We are currently looking for a talented and motivated prospective PhD candidate to join us in this endeavour, who will work to elucidate the molecular detail of several antibiotic resistance mechanisms found in the major human pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus.

Please see the O’Neill lab website for more information about what we do, and links to our published work:

Funding Notes


Recent publications from the O'Neill lab concerned with understanding the molecular mechanisms of antibiotic resistance:

(1) Sharkey, LK; Edwards, TA; O'Neill, AJ (2016) ABC-F proteins mediate antibiotic resistance through ribosomal protection. mBio, 7: e01975-15

(2) Randall, C; Gupta, A; Jackson, N; Busse, D; O'Neill, AJ (2015) Silver resistance in Gram-negative bacteria: a dissection of endogenous and exogenous mechanisms J Antimicrobial Chemother, 70: 1037-1046

(3) Cox, G; Thompson, GS; Jenkins, HT; Peske, F; Savelsbergh, A; Rodnina, MV; Wintermeyer, W; Homans, SW; Edwards, TA; O'Neill, AJ. (2012) Ribosome clearance by FusB-type proteins mediates resistance to the antibiotic fusidic acid. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109 2102-7

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