Dr Lisa Dawson
Lisa Dawson has recently embarked on an LSHTM/Wellcome Trust funded fellowship based at LSHTM, to characterise the virulence traits of the nosocomial pathogen Clostridium difficile. Prior to this, Lisa was employed as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow working with Brendan Wren’s research group in the Pathogen Molecular Biology unit. The main focus of the research was characterising the genetic and phenotypic traits of the hypervirulent Clostridium difficile using a genome to phenome approach. Lisa’s research interests also include Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Lisa undertook a PhD at the National Institute for Medical Research, in which Lisa studied the regulation of DNA damage repair in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. She graduated from Cardiff University with a first class honours BSc degree in Genetics in 2001.
Lisa is a lecturer and exam board member for the Medical Microbiology MSc courses and a tutor for both Distance Learning MSc and Medical Microbiology MSc courses. Lisa supervises both PhD and MSc research projects based at LSHTM.
Clostridium difficile is the most frequent cause of antibiotic associated nosocomial diarrhoea world-wide. Antibiotic therapy for an underlying condition disrupts the normal gut microflora and increases the risk of colonisation with C. difficile. The recent transcontinental spread of C. difficile hypervirulent lineages has been associated with high recurrence rates, increased levels of mortality and severe hospital outbreaks. Nevertheless, little is known about the mechanisms involved in colonisation of the gut and reactivation of disease. Current treatment regimes have varied efficacy and relapse rates are high, therefore C. difficile infection (CDI) remains a challenge to the healthcare industry. One area of Lisa’s research interests are bacterial biofilms, which are recognised in other pathogens as vital for colonisation, persistence and virulence in a host. Lisa has shown that C. difficile is capable of forming biofilms in-vitro and is interested in the mechanisms behind biofilm formation. C. difficile possesses a number of virulence traits; among them is the ability to produce para-cresol, a bacteriostatic phenolic agent. Lisa is interested in characterising production of the compound and assessing the potential impact that this compound has on the gut flora during CDI infection.