Prestigious fellowship for talented researcher

Congratulations to Dr. Dan Neill who has been awarded the  prestigious Sir Henry Dale Fellowship to continue his groundbreaking scientific research.

 

Dan will be looking at the identification of niche-specific virulence factors via experimental evolution of Streptococcus pneumoniae

The pneumococcus is a bacterium that causes severe diseases throughout the world, but particularly in poorer countries. It is the most common cause of death from infectious disease in children under 5. We don't have a vaccine that protects against every type of pneumococcus. What makes pneumococcus so deadly is the ability to adapt to different challenges in different sites within the human body. For example, many people have pneumococcus living harmlessly in their noses and mouths, but the bacteria is also able to survive in the lungs (where it can cause pneumonia) and the lining of the brain (meningitis). This 5 year project aims to explain how pneumococcus thrives in different places. By comparing the genes of bacteria that cause different types of disease I will be able to find out which genes are required for infecting certain organs. I will then construct bacteria that lack these genes and find out if they are still able to cause disease. This will help us understand what changes in the 'safe' bacteria in our noses allow them to cause disease. I aim to find important bacterial proteins that could be targeted in new vaccines or drugs aimed at controlling pneumococcal disease.