Dr Claudia Hemsley (nee Mueller )
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Geoffrey Pope 401
Geoffrey Pope Building, University of Exeter , Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QD, UK
Office hours: I usually work from Tuesday to Friday only
I usually work from Tuesday to Friday only
My interest in bacterial pathogenesis and infectious diseases developed during my Master’s degree, where I studied the effect of environmental conditions on fimbriation of uropathogenic E. coli. My PhD studies and my first post-doctoral project had the broader theme of global gene regulation processes in uropathogenic E. coli.
Since joining Prof. Titball’s group in Exeter, I have studied virulence and antibiotic resistance mechanisms of Burkholderia pseudomallei, a more “unusual” pathogen causing the life-threatening disease melioidosis, as well as Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of the zoonotic disease Q-fever.
Within the Bacterial Pathogenesis Research Group, I have co-supervised and mentored several third year project students and PhD students.
Broad research specialisms:
- Bacterial pathogenesis
- Antimicrobial therapy
- Gene regulation
MSc. in Molecular Biology, University of Umea, Sweden
PhD in Molecular Biology, Institute of Molecular Biology of Infectious Diseases, Würzburg, Germany
Research group links
My current research project funded by DSTL aims to characterise Coxiella burnetii at the molecular level. C. burnetii is an obligate intracellular bacterium that causes the zoonotic disease Q-fever in humans. C. burnetii is difficult to culture, requires containment in a Biological Safety Lavel 3 (BSL3) laboratory, and is difficult to modify genetically. I have successfuly established culturing and genetic techniques for workig with Coxiella here in Exeter. I am in the process of characterising essential and virulence-associated genes in this organism by using traditional genetic techniques and Transposon Directed Insertion Site Sequencing (TraDIS) and am trying to establish the genetic diversity of C. burnetii in the UK by whole genome sequencing.
Previous research projects were focussed on Burkholderia pseudomallei, another BSL3 organisms. The genus Burkholderia contains several pathogenic bacterial species causing severe infections in humans that cannot easily be treated with antibiotics and often enter a chronic or latent state. One aim of my research was to identify the molecular basis that enables B. pseudomallei to cause chronic disease. Target genes selected from published data or our own transcriptomic data were subject to mutagenesis and the virulence potential of the resulting mutant derivatives was then tested in various models of disease.
A second, related aim of my research was to study the contribution of so-called “persister cells” in treatment failure and recurrent or chronic disease. Persister cells are a subpopulation of multidrug-tolerant phenotypic variants in bacterial populations. The mechanism of persister cell formation is not well understood but it is thought that persisters are able to withstand antibiotics due to an altered metabolism. Here, we have used B. thailandensis as a model system for studying non-inherited antibiotic resistance mechanisms in the genus Burkholderia in more detail, including transcriptomic and metabolic profiling of persister cells and mathematical modelling of alternative antibiotic treatment regimes that could eradicate these phenotypic variants.
- Mechanisms of persistence and chronic disease caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei
- In vitro persister cell formation in B. thailandensis
- Identification of novel targets for antimicrobial therapy using small molecule inhibitors
- Molecular characterisation of Coxiella burnetii
- Wellcome Trust (Award WT085162AIA)
- Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL)
Publications by category
Publications by year
claudia_mueller Details from cache as at 2020-02-21 17:10:48