If we use antibiotics to treat infection we cannot avoid encouraging the growth of bacteria that are able to resist the effects of the antibiotics. Some bacteria, often called “superbugs”, have been particularly successful in hospitals and other places where a lot of antibiotics are used. Apart from good hygiene, can we do something more clever to prevent antibiotic resistance from taking over in bacterial populations?
Lucinda Hall’s research interests centre on the evolution of bacterial pathogens, particularly in relation to antibiotic resistance. Early development of molecular typing methods and the determination of antibiotic resistance mechanisms led to an interest in bacterial population structures and the factors that drive the acquisition, spread, and maintenance of resistance. Following the demonstration that resistance to sulphonamides in Escherichia coli is maintained despite minimal recent use in medicine, one interest is in the factors that underlie this persistence of resistance. Other projects relate to the genetic mechanisms of mutation in Streptococcus pneumoniae, particularly in relation to the evolution of multiresistant strains with international spread. A developing area of research is in the microbiota of the gut and its interaction with the host in health and disease, in collaboration with groups within and outside the Centre. Manipulation of bacterial populations on the skin or in the gut is one potential route to limiting the spread of antibiotic resistance.
With a background in molecular genetics, Lucinda teaches on the biology of bacteria and the role of molecular techniques in clinical microbiology.