Dr Lisa Dawson


Assistant Professor


Keppel Street
United Kingdom


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.


Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases
Department of Infection Biology


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.  




Research Area
Molecular biology
Disease and Health Conditions
Diarrhoeal diseases

Selected Publications

Para-cresol production by Clostridium difficile affects microbial diversity and membrane integrity of Gram-negative bacteria.
Passmore IJ; Letertre MPM; Preston MD; Bianconi I; Harrison MA; Nasher F; Kaur H; Hong HA; Baines SD; Cutting SM
PLoS pathogens
Role of Glycosyltransferases Modifying Type B Flagellin of Emerging Hypervirulent Clostridium difficile Lineages and Their Impact on Motility and Biofilm Formation.
Valiente E; Bouché L; Hitchen P; Faulds-Pain A; Songane M; Dawson LF; Donahue E; Stabler RA; Panico M; Morris HR
The Journal of biological chemistry
Cyclic diGMP regulates production of sortase substrates of Clostridium difficile and their surface exposure through ZmpI protease-mediated cleavage.
Peltier J; Shaw HA; Couchman EC; Dawson LF; Yu L; Choudhary JS; Kaever V; Wren BW; Fairweather NF
The Journal of biological chemistry
Clostridium difficile has a single sortase, SrtB, that can be inhibited by small-molecule inhibitors.
Donahue EH; Dawson LF; Valiente E; Firth-Clark S; Major MR; Littler E; Perrior TR; Wren BW
BMC microbiology
Characterisation of Clostridium difficile biofilm formation, a role for Spo0A.
Dawson LF; Valiente E; Faulds-Pain A; Donahue EH; Wren BW
PloS one
The Clostridium difficile spo0A gene is a persistence and transmission factor.
Deakin LJ; Clare S; Fagan RP; Dawson LF; Pickard DJ; West MR; Wren BW; Fairweather NF; Dougan G; Lawley TD
Infection and immunity
The analysis of para-cresol production and tolerance in Clostridium difficile 027 and 012 strains.
Dawson LF; Donahue EH; Cartman ST; Barton RH; Bundy J; McNerney R; Minton NP; Wren BW
BMC microbiology
Evolutionary dynamics of Clostridium difficile over short and long time scales.
He M; Sebaihia M; Lawley TD; Stabler RA; Dawson LF; Martin MJ; Holt KE; Seth-Smith HMB; Quail MA; Rance R
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Comparative genome and phenotypic analysis of Clostridium difficile 027 strains provides insight into the evolution of a hypervirulent bacterium.
Stabler RA; He M; Dawson L; Martin M; Valiente E; Corton C; Lawley TD; Sebaihia M; Quail MA; Rose G
Genome biology
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