The Medical Microbiology group's overarching aims are to address the diagnosis, management and prevention of infectious disease; to improve the clinical outcome for patients with infection and to identify beneficial ways of manipulating the gut microflora.
Drs Livermore, Schelenz, O'Grady and Wain are working together on genomic-based diagnostics to allow the swift identification of bacterial pathogens in clinical specimens, without the 2-day delay that arises in conventional culture-based bacteriology. culture. If pathogens and their resistance genes can be recognised swiftly, within hours of clinical diagnosis, it will be possible to personalise the patient's treatment, choosing an effective antibiotic that does the least harm to the body's natural microflora. This should benefit both the individual patient and – through better antibiotic stewardship – the NHS as a whole. Innovation in this area is critically important since we live in a world of growing antibiotic resistance and dwindling antibiotic development – challenges underscored in recent warnings from the Chief Medical Officer for England.
The Government aims to make the UK the first country in the world to introduce genomics routinely into clinical laboratories for diagnosis, including for infection (http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/dna-tests-to-fight-cancer) and the Medical Microbiology group's close working relationship with The Earlham Institute (EI) and the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital gives us great potential to be among the leaders in this area. Specific targets include molecular pathogen detection and antibiotic resistance testing for the bacteria in sepsis and urinary tract infections along with and in situ genomic analysis of biofilms. The group's expertise in these areas is underpinned by experience in molecular biology, DNA technology and through Prof Changjiang Dong in the molecular structure and function of proteins.
The work of Prof Hunter and Dr Tyler centres upon infections spread through contaminated drinking water. On a global scale, waterborne and related diseases are one of the major causes of preventable mortality and morbidity in children under 5 years old with their importance potentially increased by climate change. The leads, several large consortium studies in the UK, Europe, Africa, South East Asia and Latin America and has strong links to key international agencies and NGOs including The World Health Organisation and Médecins sans Frontières.
The long-term vision of the microbiology group is to maintain the Norwich Medical School's position as one of the world's leading centres for research aiming to reduce the disease burden due to unsafe drinking water and to establish a world-leading centre for translational microbiology including antibiotic resistance. This research will is based on the exploitation of powerful new technologies and is critical if we are to keep ahead of antibiotic-resistant infections through the 21st Century.