‘Most promising science’ prizes at Annual Conference 2021: Journal of Medical Microbiology winners

Posted on July 5, 2021   by Microbiology Society

Over the week at Annual Conference Online 2021, delegates showcased excellent posters and exciting research and we are very pleased to announce the winners of the Microbiology Society Journals ‘Most Promising Science’ prizes. In this blog, we will find out more about some of the winners awarded the prize by the Journal of Medical Microbiology Editors.  

Aiste Dijokaite: ‘Immuno-proteomics of sera from gonorrhoea patients identified potential vaccine candidates’ 

Who or what inspired you to be a scientist?  

My mother. She did not get to achieve her career in medicine, but she inspired me to dream big and to pursue it 

What are you currently working on and what area of your research excites you the most? 

Currently, I am working with cloning, expression and purification of proteins identified with immuno-proteomics. As well, I am preparing Neisseria gonorrhoeae genomic DNA extractions for genome sequencing of original gonococci isolates from the 1980s. I am very passionate about vaccine studies and if possible, I would like to stay in the vaccine discovery field.   

How would you explain your poster to a child under 10? 

Blood from gonorrhoea infected and healthy people was tested and compared against each other to find differences in the immune response. Those differences and complicated laboratory techniques allowed us to identify parts of bacteria that could be used in vaccines to prevent people from getting gonorrhoea infections. 

What would you be doing in your career if you weren’t a scientist?  

I would be a travel guide/travel planner. 

Alyona Lavrinenko: ‘Respiratory pathogens co-infection in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia in Kazakhstan’ 

Who or what inspired you to be a scientist? 

My beloved and dear mentor, my teacher! A person who was a teacher of microbiology in my student years, and now he is a dissertation supervisor and a colleague in scientific projects.   

What are you currently working on and what area of your research excites you the most?   

It is molecular epidemiology. We are currently studying the antibiotic resistance of hospital strains in the Republic of Kazakhstan. 

 How would you explain your poster to a child under 10? 

A virus cannot be killed with antibiotics. Antibiotics should not be taken as preventive therapy. Uncontrolled use of antibiotics, as many are now doing around the world, will lead to the appearance of more bacteria that will not be affected by antibiotics, soon. There will be no drugs left for the treatment of serious infections, from which people who are treated in hospitals can die.  

Anthony Slate: ‘Development of an infection responsive coating to control encrustation of urinary catheters’ 

 Who or what inspired you to be a scientist?   

Growing up I had always been fascinated with understanding how the universe around us works. This started when I was a small child, my mum has countless stories of when I would take apart my toys and try and put them back together again (much to her frustration!). 

 What are you currently working on and what area of your research excites you the most?   

I develop urinary catheter coatings that can resist bacterial biofilm formation and blockage. This field excites me as I feel as though if successful this research could have a real, positive impact on patients and their quality of life. 

 How would you explain your poster to a child under 10? 

I help to make a barrier on a type of medical equipment that stops you from getting more sick when you go to hospital. 

 What would you be doing in your career if you weren’t a scientist?  

If I wasn’t a scientist, then I would have liked to have gone down the route of 3D games designer. It’s a real passion of mine to be able to design, build and/or develop things; skills that are an asset when it comes to microbiology research. 

Lewis Mason: ‘Genomic epidemiology of the first London outbreak of antimicrobial resistant sexually transmitted shigellosis’ 

Who or what inspired you to be a scientist?   

I am fortunate enough to have had enthusiastic and charismatic Biology teachers and lecturers from GCSE, A-Level, undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Seeing these people live and love their subject areas provided me with the determination to pursue my own interests, which slowly grew into my passion for microbiology!  

What are you currently working on and what area of your research excites you the most?   

I am currently working on understanding how Shigella sonnei from a 2004 outbreak in London compares to the S. sonnei seen in outbreaks today at a genomic level. I am most excited by the prospect of including samples from early outbreaks in Germany and Australia to the analyses.  

 How would you explain your poster to a child under 10? 

There are tiny living things called bacteria, also known as germs. Some bacteria are good, others can make people very sick. Some people in a city called London got sick with bacteria called Shigella sonnei. I want to know how these bacteria spread throughout the world and made people sick.  

What would you be doing in your career if you weren’t a scientist?  

I would be a nurse. I undertook work experience at age 16 in a local hospital, where I shadowed and assisted nurses in various departments. I loved every moment of my time there and have great respect and admiration for the work that nurses do.  

 

Madeline Mei: ‘Heterogenous susceptibility to R-pyocins in populations of Pseudomonas aeruginosa sourced from cystic fibrosis lungs’ 

Who or what inspired you to be a scientist?   

My undergraduate advisor, mentor and now friend, Dr Irma Santoro Bliss inspired me to pursue graduate school and research. She was an excellent role model and gave me the encouragement I needed to become a scientist. 

What are you currently working on and what area of your research excites you the most?   

I am working on unravelling the regulatory behaviour of R-type pyocins: a type of bacteriocin made by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Studying R-pyocins in general is very exciting to me because these antimicrobial particles have such potential to be useful in many different areas (including medicine, food preservation, and the agricultural industry). 

How would you explain your poster to a child under 10? 

We tested bacteria from patients with lung infections to see if they would be killed by an antimicrobial called an R-pyocin – we want to learn more about R-pyocins, so we can use them in the future to kill bacteria in infections that are hard to get rid of.   

What would you be doing in your career if you weren’t a scientist?  

I would probably own a greenhouse or nursery in the plant industry – I love horticulture!