I studied Microbiology at Queens University Belfast, before completing my PhD and post-doc at Veterinary Sciences Division, Stoney Road, Belfast. I moved to a post-doc position in the School of Pharmacy, and subsequently obtained a lectureship position. My main focus of research is respiratory infection in chronic lung diseases such as COPD, CF and bronchiectasis. These conditions represent major, and often underestimated, healthcare challenges. Understanding the composition and function of lung bacteria in the pathogenesis of chronic disease will help us to alleviate or cure chronic lung disease and, in the face of increasing resistance rates, help us to use antibiotic reserves more wisely. Two key areas of research are:
Chronic MRSA infection in CF: this is associated with declining lung function and increased mortality in people with CF. This project will look for changes in MRSA, from first identification, as it develops into a chronic infection, and relate this to changes in the patient. Understanding how chronic infection is established may help us identify markers which might indicate transition to chronic infection, and help design treatment strategies which could prevent or subvert its onset.
The effect of cigarette smoke and electronic cigarette vapour on key pathogens in COPD: It is well known that cigarette smoke has a damaging effect on the lungs, but there is very little known about cigarette smoke or electronic cigarette vapour on lung bacteria. Current research is currently focussing on how cigarette exposure might affect bacterial virulence, influence antibiotic resistance and development of chronic infection.
Outside the laboratory I am kept busy by three young daughters and an understanding husband. Any rare free time is spent either baking, chasing round after the girls (who have much better social life than me) or outdoors! I love travelling and look forward to resuming my adventures once the girls are a little older!