James GurneyAssistant Professor Biology
Ph.D. Microbiology, University of Nottingham, UK
BSc (Hons). Molecular biology and Cellular Physiology, University of Hertfordshire, UK
My research focus is on treating intractable chronic infections. These infections are a major burden on public health and resources. The majority of my work is focused on improving the use and design of bacteriophage therapeutics. I tackle this topic from an evolutionary angle, how do we control and reduce the emergence of general resistance to novel therapeutics?
Co-evolution of bacteriophage and their hosts: Investigating co-evolution in bacteriophage under a number of different environments and the implications for phage therapy. This work deals with how phage might shape pathogens during chronic infections such as the CF lung. This Steering effect could make pathogens less virulent, antibiotic resistant, and less likely to transmit.
Diversity of chronic infections and Cocktails: During adaptation to a new host, chronic infections seem to diversify. This diversity can increase tolerance to antimicrobials and increase tissue damage. My work lab here asks how we can build phage cocktails that target diverse infections.
Effective and evolutionarily robust pathogen control: The development of evolutionarily robust strategies to control beta-lactamase and efflux resistance mechanisms is a major goal in microbiology and would allow us a return to the use of many otherwise failing antibiotics. Beta-lactamase inhibitors can be made more evolutionarily robust by simple dosing modifications. Efflux-binding phages can increase antibiotic sensitivity in vivo and during antibiotic co-administration. The goal of this research is to perform an evolutionary risk analysis of adjuvant/combination control strategies to identify drug combinations that can significantly slow the evolution of resistance to front line antibiotics.
Outreach: I am passionate about communicating science. My best-known work is Kurzgesagt. I have written and edited over a dozen of the wildly popular videos and provided expert feedback on the beautiful biological posters. For a playlist of the videos I’ve helped make, see below! I’m always super happy to harp on about the importance of outreach, so don’t be afraid to ask me.