Department of Biology & Biochemistry
susanne gebhard

Senior Lecturer

4 South 0.24
Email: s.gebhard@bath.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)1225 386421

Twitter: @GebhardLab

 

Dr Susanne Gebhard

Profile

Academic Biography

  • 2014-present Lecturer, University of Bath
  • 2014 Habilitation, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany
  • 2009-2014 Junior Group Leader, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany
  • 2006-2009 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Otago, NZ
  • 2003-2006 PhD, University of Otago, NZ
  • 2000 Graduate Diploma in Applied Science, University of Waikato, NZ
  • 1996-2003 Biology Diploma, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, Germany

Research Interests

Bacteria are found in almost any habitat on Earth, and one key to their success is their extraordinary ability to monitor their environment and respond to changes and stresses they might encounter. They achieve this by means of sophisticated signalling pathways that can relay specific information from the outside to the inside of the cell and trigger the most appropriate response.

My group is interested in understanding how these signalling systems work, what information they gather, how the different protein components communicate, which genes are switched on or off as a result of signalling, and how these responses adapt the bacterium to the encountered stress. Our work is focussed in two main areas.

Antibiotic stress responses

The first step in antibiotic resistance very often is the detection of the drug by the bacterium, which leads to activation of dedicated resistance systems that protect the cell. Using a combination of in vivo and in vitro approaches, supported by bioinformatics and mathematical modelling, we study signalling pathways involved in resistance against cell wall antibiotics in the Gram-positive bacteria Bacillus subtilis and Enterococcus faecalis. Sub-projects range from mechanistic investigations of individual signalling pathways to systems-level investigation of whole regulatory networks. Ultimately, if we can fully understand these processes, it may be possible to design drugs that can avoid detection and thereby bypass resistance.

Environmental stress

Many bacteria are uniquely adapted to very stressful environments where they might encounter extreme conditions of pH, temperature or salinity, to name a few. We are interested in finding bacteria in natural habitats that reflect conditions found in the built environment, e.g. concrete or similar building materials. If these bacteria also possess the ability to precipitate calcite minerals, they can be harnessed for industrial applications, e.g. in self-healing bio-concrete, where they can heal micro-fractures to prevent more serious damage to buildings or structures like bridges or tunnels. In an interdisciplinary collaboration with civil engineers and material scientists we are aiming to take this project from the natural environment to commercial application.

Publications

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