We recently had the pleasure of awarding third year PhD student, Jessica Buddle the DWS Travel Grant to present her work in Liverpool at the Northern BUG meeting. See how it went below:
Thanks to the Travel Grant from Don Whitley Scientific, I (Jessica Buddle, a 3rd year PhD student in Robert Fagan’s group at the University of Sheffield) was able to travel to Liverpool for the 9th Northern BUG meeting. Northern BUG is a bioinformatics group covering a broad spectrum of biology, where people come together to talk about how we can use bioinformatics to better understand bacteria/fungi/cancer/metabolism. It is a great community of researchers dedicated to sharing research tools and solving common problems.
My project involves characterising vancomycin resistance in C. difficile – since C. difficile is the most common cause of hospital-associated diarrhoea, and is resistant to many common antibiotics; we decided to take a (thus-far) undervalued approach to understand how resistance arose. Instead of using standard molecular biology methods alone, we used a Whitley anaerobic cabinet to do a large-scale laboratory evolution of C. difficile to generate vancomycin resistant bacteria. We hoped that this would enable us to look at evolution in different ways (which was, thankfully, the case – we evolved resistance up to 32x the initial MIC). We were able to look at the rate and extent of resistance acquisition, as well as the impacts of resistance on bacterial fitness. We also sequenced resistant bacteria to understand what mutations arose. Currently, we are using these to understand the genes and pathways involved in resistance. The Whitley Anaerobic Workstation has been integral to my research throughout my PhD, allowing me to complete the laboratory evolution, to do growth curves and assays, and to clone a multitude of genes.
Since my project utilised molecular biology, evolutionary, and bioinformatics approaches, it was important to me to present my work at NBUG. The conference didn’t disappoint – it was full of friendly researchers, interesting talks, posters and networking opportunities. The somewhat unique approach I took to designing my poster paid off – it got a lot of attention, and actually won the best poster prize! Overall I had a super successful and enjoyable day at NBUG9, and thank DWS for their funding.
We thank Jessica for her overview of what seemed like a very successful meeting and wish her all the best with her work going forward. If you are a student using a Whitley Workstation and wish to present your findings at a meeting or conference, head over to our Travel Grant page to see if you are eligible for the award!
See Jessica's poster here: J. Buddle Poster PDF.pdf