Department of Biology & Biochemistry


Dept of Biology & Biochemistry 3S 1.01


Tel: +44 (0) 1225 38 6018 


Dr Ruth Massey 


Academic Biography

  • Lecturer/Senior Lecturer, University of Bath 2007- to date.
  • Departmental Lecturer, University of Oxford, 2004-2007.
  • Ph.D. Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. 1999.
  • B.A. (mod). Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. 1995.

Research interests

The current focus of my laboratories work is the study of several aspects of the pathogenicity of the Gram-positive pathogen Staphylococcus aureus:

  • The control of toxin expression by MRSA. Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are antibiotic resistant strains that cause huge health problems worldwide. We are studying the regulation of toxin expression by both hospital and community associated MRSA strains.
  • Developing biologics to prevent endocarditis and metastatic abscess formation by S. aureus. Infective endocarditis and metastatic abscesses commonly occur following the development of S. aureus sepsis, and are associated with significantly increased morbidity and mortality. This project is developing biologics that interfere with and prevent these disease symptoms developing.
  • Bacteriosafe. As part of a large consortium we are developing a “smart-dressing” for use on burn wounds, that signal to clinicians when the wound has become infected. Our role is to characterise the lytic activity of S. aureus and Pseudomonsa aerunginosa and determine the potential of this dressing to respond to the presence of these bacteria.
  • VIR-DICT: Predicting the virulence of Staphylococcus aureus from genome sequences using Systems Biology. With genome sequencing becoming cheaper and faster, what’s needed are tool that can take these genomes and provide clinicians with the information that will allow them to tailor their treatment of infected patients. Systems Biology (SB) is a new approach to analysing complex biological systems that has the potential to deliver such tools. For this project we are bringing together a multidisciplinary team of researchers (molecular biologists, microbiologists, evolutionary biologists, structural biologists and mathematical biologists) to develop a strategy to build SB tools that predicting microbial virulence.


Laabei, M. and Massey, R., 2016. Using functional genomics to decipher the complexity of microbial pathogenicity. Current Genetics

Massey, R., 2015. Deadliest superbugs are not the most toxic, new study shows. [Non-academic press]

Laabei, M., Uhlemann, A. C., Lowy, F. D., Austin, E. D., Yokoyama, M., Ouadi, K., Feil, E., Thorpe, H. A., Williams, B. G., Perkins, M., Peacock, S. J., Clarke, S. R., Dordel, J., Holden, M., Votintseva, A. A., Bowden, R., Crook, D. W., Young, B. C., Wilson, D. J., Recker, M. and Massey, R. C., 2015. Evolutionary trade-offs underlie the multi-faceted virulence of staphylococcus aureus. PLoS Biology, 13 (9), e1002229.

O'Keefe, K. M., Wilk, M. M., Leech, J. M., Murphy, A. G., Laabei, M., Monk, I. R., Massey, R. C., Lindsay, J. A., Foster, T. J., Geoghegan, J. A. and McLoughlin, R. M., 2015. Manipulation of autophagy in phagocytes facilitates Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infection. Infection and Immunity, 83 (9), pp. 3445-3457.

Massey, R., 2015. Swine flu vaccine’s mysterious link to narcolepsy is no reason not to protect yourself. [Non-academic press]

Massey, R. and Roberts, A., 2015. The answer to tackling superbugs could be … more superbugs. [Non-academic press]

Massey, R., 2014. Characterizing the genetic basis of bacterial phenotypes using genome-wide association studies: a new direction for bacteriology. Genome Medicine, 6 (11).

Stemberk, V., Jones, R. P. O., Moroz, O., Atkin, K. E., Edwards, A. M., Turkenburg, J. P., Leech, A. P., Massey, R. C. and Potts, J. R., 2014. Evidence for Steric Regulation of Fibrinogen Binding to Staphylococcus aureus Fibronectin-binding Protein A (FnBPA). Journal of Biological Chemistry, 289 (18), pp. 12842-12851.

Laabei, M., Recker, M., Rudkin, J. K., Aldeljawi, M., Gulay, Z., Sloan, T. J., Williams, P., Endres, J. L., Bayles, K. W., Fey, P. D., Yajjala, V. K., Widhelm, T., Hawkins, E., Lewis, K., Parfett, S., Scowen, L., Peacock, S. J., Holden, M., Wilson, D., Read, T. D., Van Den Elsen, J., Priest, N. K., Feil, E. J., Hurst, L. D., Josefsson, E. and Massey, R. C., 2014. Predicting the virulence of MRSA from its genome sequence. Genome Research, 24 (5), pp. 839-849.

Rudkin, J. K., Laabei, M., Edwards, A. M., Joo, H. S., Otto, M., Lennon, K. L., O'Gara, J. P., Waterfield, N. R. and Massey, R. C., 2014. Oxacillin alters the toxin expression profile of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 58 (2), pp. 1100-1107.

Laabei, M., Jamieson, W. D., Massey, R. C. and Jenkins, A. T. A., 2014. Staphylococcus aureus Interaction with Phospholipid Vesicles – A New Method to Accurately Determine Accessory Gene Regulator (agr) Activity. PLoS ONE, 9 (1), e87270.

Priest, N. K., Rudkin, J. K., Feil, E. J., Van Den Elsen, J. M. H., Cheung, A., Peacock, S. J., Laabei, M., Lucks, D. A., Recker, M. and Massey, R. C., 2012. From genotype to phenotype: can systems biology be used to predict Staphylococcus aureus virulence? Nature Reviews Microbiology, 10 (11), pp. 791-797.

Edwards, A.M., Bowden, M.G., Brown, E.L., Laabei, M. and Massey, R.C., 2012. Staphylococcus aureus extracellular adherence protein triggers TNFα release, promoting attachment to endothelial cells via protein A. PLoS ONE, 7 (8), e43046.

Pozzi, C., Waters, E. M., Rudkin, J. K., Schaeffer, C. R., Lohan, A. J., Tong, P., Loftus, B. J., Pier, G. B., Fey, P. D., Massey, R. C. and O'Gara, J. P., 2012. Methicillin resistance alters the biofilm phenotype and attenuates virulence in staphylococcus aureus device-associated infections. PLoS Pathogens, 8 (4), e1002626.

Edwards, A. M., Massey, R. C. and Clarke, S. R., 2012. Molecular mechanisms of Staphylococcus aureus nasopharyngeal colonization. Molecular Oral Microbiology, 27 (1), pp. 1-10.

Rudkin, J. K., Edwards, A. M., Bowden, M. G., Brown, E. L., Pozzi, C., Waters, E. M., Chan, W. C., Williams, P., O'Gara, J. P. and Massey, R. C., 2012. Methicillin Resistance Reduces the Virulence of Healthcare-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus by Interfering With the agr Quorum Sensing System. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 205 (5), pp. 798-806.

Edwards, A. M. and Massey, R. C., 2011. How does Staphylococcus aureus escape the bloodstream? Trends in Microbiology, 19 (4), pp. 184-190.

Edwards, A. M., Potter, U., Meenan, N. A. G., Potts, J. R. and Massey, R. C., 2011. Staphylococcus aureus keratinocyte invasion is dependent upon multiple high-affinity fibronectin-binding repeats within FnBPA. PLoS ONE, 6 (4), e18899.

Edwards, A. M. and Massey, R. C., 2011. Invasion of human cells by a bacterial pathogen. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 49, e2693.

Edwards, A. M., Potts, J. R., Josefsson, E. and Massey, R. C., 2010. Staphylococcus aureus host cell invasion and virulence in sepsis is facilitated by the multiple repeats within FnBPA. PLoS Pathogens, 6 (6), e1000964.

Collins, J., Rudkin, J., Recker, M., Pozzi, C., O'Gara, J. P. and Massey, R. C., 2010. Offsetting virulence and antibiotic resistance costs by MRSA. ISME Journal, 4 (4), pp. 577-584.

Collins, J., Buckling, A. and Massey, R. C., 2008. Identification of factors contributing to T-cell toxicity of Staphylococcus aureus clinical isolates. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 46 (6), pp. 2112-2114.

Harrison, F., Paul, J., Massey, R. C. and Buckling, A., 2008. Interspecific competition and siderophore-mediated cooperation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. ISME Journal, 2 (1), pp. 49-55.

Scriba, T. J., Sierro, S., Brown, E. L., Phillips, R. E., Sewell, A. K. and Massey, R. C., 2008. The Staphyloccous aureus Eap protein activates expression of proinflammatory cytokines. Infection and Immunity, 76 (5), pp. 2164-2168.

This list was generated on Tue May 24 09:06:16 2016 IST.

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