Rob’s interests are in understanding how bacteria interact with the host, how they move through the food chain and how they cause disease.
Rob is focusing on Salmonella, one of the most common cases of foodborne illness in the UK. There are hundreds of different strains of Salmonella bacteria, which cause different symptoms. Understanding what is behind these variations gives clues as to what makes Salmonella such a dangerous pathogen.
His approach is to study variation in the genome sequence and the proteome – the complete range of proteins translated from those genes, and relate those differences back to how the bacteria behave in the host and in the environment.
“I’m taking an evolutionary approach to understanding pathogenicity” said Rob. “By putting all of this information together I’m hoping we can find targets for intervening to stop problematic pathogens from getting into the food chain.”
Prior to joining IFR, Rob spent ten years at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge. Rob is a molecular microbiologist, specialising in host/pathogen interactions, but working in the Sanger Institute provided an environment to incorporate genomic research and big data analysis into his studies into Salmonella.
Rob was attracted to join the IFR as he recognised its critical mass in microbiology and expertise in biology of the gut. Working on the Norwich Research Park also presents the opportunity to interact with The Genome Analysis Centre and the Norwich Medical School at UEA.
“There really is an impressive density of research applicable to foodborne pathogens here on the NRP” commented Rob.