Photo of Professor Jo Fothergill

Professor Jo Fothergill BSc (Hons), PhD

Professor in Medical Microbiology Clinical Infection, Microbiology & Immunology


Personal Statement

My research interests revolve around understanding how pathogens cause disease. My main interests involve the opportunistic pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and how it interacts with other species during infection particularly within polymicrobial biofilms. Deciphering these interactions could be key to both understanding the evolution of successful pathogens and the development of appropriate therapeutics. My research combines genomics, molecular microbiology and population studies combined with relevant infection models.

I have worked extensively on bacterial genomics, molecular epidemiology (including transmissible strains) and antimicrobial resistance for the last 15 years, particularly in the context of chronic lung infection. I was awarded two fellowships to study Pseudomonas aeruginosa in chronic infections and am PI on a number of grants on Pseudomonas adaptation and virulence, resistance, diagnostics and novel therapeutics. I have developed Pseudomonas strain level diagnostic tests that have been recommended for use in the NHS. My current interests are in developing novel therapeutics for a range of P. aeruginosa-associated infections (lung, urinary tract, keratitis and wounds) with a particular interest in relevant in vitro models and the impact of the wider population (microbiome). I am dedicated to cystic fibrosis microbiology and currently lead a strategic research centre (PIPE-CF) based on defining appropriate development pipelines for novel antimicrobial therapeutics. Within my own research I have an interest in phage therapy, antimicrobial potentiators and anti-virulence compounds.

My research also encompasses other infections such as urinary tract infections caused by Escherichia coli and, through collaboration, the development of antimicrobial surfaces.

I am Director of the Microbiome Innovation Centre at the University of Liverpool with a particular interest on changes in the microbiome during treatment and the impact of interactions on pathogen biology. I have a long standing interest in how thee interactions alter bacterial virulence and dynamics of mobile genetic elements such as temperate phages.

I have various advisory board roles including the CF Syndicate in AMR, the CF Trust Scientific Advisory Board and the UK CF Infection Biorepository.

I enjoy mentoring students and have a group consisting of a mixture of post docs, PhD students, Masters students and undergraduates. I love watching them learn new techniques and grow throughout their projects. I am always willing to hear from people interested in being part of the group.

I teach on various undergraduate and masters level modules, largely around bacterial disease mechanisms, AMR, novel therapeutics and microbiomes.

KEYWORDS: infection; bacteria; antimicrobial resistance; AMR; pathogen; novel therapeutics; phage; biofilm; polymicrobial; microbiome; Pseudomonas; cystic fibrosis; bronchiectasis; lung infection; adaptation; urinary tract infections; Escherichia coli; in vitro models; virulence; microbiology

Prizes or Honours

  • SGM Presidents Fund (SGM, 2010)
  • Microbiology Communication Award (North West Microbiology Conference, 2008)
  • Young Investigator of the Year (European Cystic Fibrosis Society, 2008)
  • Undergraduate Prize (British Society for Immunology, 2004)

Funded Fellowships

  • Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship (Leverhulme Trust, 2012)