Medical microbiology

Medical microbiology research within the Microbiology and Biotechnology Research Group includes studies on Clostridium difficile infection and Tuberculosis.

Clostridium difficile infection

The main topic of research is in the area of Clostridium difficile infection and specifically the study of this pathogenic organism in vitro with regard to its pathogenesis.

Led by Dr Simon Baines, the research areas with this pathogen include:

  • Susceptibility testing and resistance development evaluations for novel antimicrobial agents
  • In vitro assays to assess antimicrobial activity of antibiotics and disinfectants against spores
  • Evaluation of novel therapeutics and their effect on the microbial ecology of the gut and C. difficile using complex in vitro models of the human colon
  • Studies of C. difficile epidemiology (human and animal/veterinary) in the UK

Dr Baines’s research also covers other pathogenic bacteria in vitro such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and multi-drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria.  Research with these organisms has centred around:

  • determining antimicrobial activity (MIC, MBC, kill curves)
  • bacteriophage isolation, purification and efficacy testing
  • biofilm studies


Tuberculosis (TB) caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is  the leading cause of death in the world. It has been estimated to infect  one in every three people or nearly two billion individuals and kill  almost three million people worldwide each year.

The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic has further contributed to the rising incidence of TB. Mycobacterium bovis has been recognised as the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis for over a century.

This zoonotic disease is a major cause of human infections in some  countries, but now it is not generally regarded as significant public  health risk in developed countries.  However, it is still a major  economic problem for agricultural trade and industry and the prevalence  of M. bovis infection is increasing rapidly in some countries, including the UK and Ireland.

To control the spread of the disease it is very important to  understand the epidemiology of the disease. This research group, led by  Dr Madhu Goyal, is looking to identify different strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis using different molecular biology techniques and different epidemiological markers.

For the control of tuberculosis, M. bovis BCG (Bacillus  Calmette-Guerin) has been used since 1900s, however an increasing number  of trials have shown variable results on its efficacy against  tuberculosis.

The Group’s interest is to find out, in collaboration,  with VLA the efficacy of improved BCG and study its effect on  pathogenesis of tuberculosis by studying the expression of different  cytokines.