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Professor of Microbiology, University of Galway

Jim O'Gara completed his PhD in the laboratory of L. Kieran Dunican at the University of Galway investigating the genetic basis of tryptophan overproduction in Corynebacterium glutamicum. During his first postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Medical School Houston in Samuel Kaplan's laboratory he discovered a novel relationship between the activity of electron transport chain redox carriers and transcriptional regulation of photosynthesis gene expression, and a new mechanism of resistance to the heavy metal tellurite in Rhodobacter sphaeroides. Returning to Ireland in 1997 for a postdoctoral fellowship at Trinity College Dublin in the laboratory of Charles J. Dorman, he revealed how fimB promoter-driven transcription across the fim switch impacts phase variable expression of type 1 fimbriae in E. coli.

Jim was appointed to a lectureship in microbiology at RCSI in 1999 and established an independent research programme investigating virulence and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) mechanisms in staphylococci, including MRSA. In 2005, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Microbiology at University College Dublin, and returned to his alma mater as Professor of Infectious Disease Microbiology in 2012.

Prof O'Gara's research group are focused on the identification and characterisation of new drug targets, from which new therapeutic interventions can be developed for the improved treatment of AMR and chronic infections. Notable scientific contributions from his group include i) the first description of the major transcriptional regulator of staphylococcal biofilm production (IcaR), ii) the identification of novel biofilm mechanisms mediated by 1. the fibronectin binding proteins, 2. the major autolysin and 3. coagulase in S. aureus, iii) elucidating the relationship between methicillin resistance, biofilm and virulence in S. aureus, iv) new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of chronic MRSA infections, including beta-lactam/nucleoside combinations, and (v) the discovery of new drug targets to increase the effectiveness of beta-lactams against MRSA (including alanine transport systems and succinyl-CoA synthetase-controlled regulation of lysine succinylation in the proteome).

Prof O'Gara was awarded a DSc from the National University of Ireland in 2018, and was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy (MRIA) in 2022.


  • –present
    Professor of Microbiology, University of Galway


  • 1990 
    University of Galway, PhD in Microbiology