School of Life Sciences

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Ruth Griffin

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences


  • workRoom B14 The University of Nottingham Biodiscovery Institute (BDI1)
    University Park
    NG7 2RD
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I undertook a degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Exeter specialising in Molecular Biology then went to the University of Oxford to undertake a DPhil investigating lipopolysaccharide of Haemophilus influenzae as a vaccine candidate in Richard Moxon's laboratory. During my post-doc positions at the National Institute for Medical Research followed by Imperial College working in Douglas Young's group, I investigated lipoarabinomannan as a novel TB vaccine candidate. As CoI on an NIH grant, I continued my research on TB at the affiliated TB group at the Animal Health Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Surrey. After a career break, I decided to return to meningitidis-causing bacteria, and as PI at my local University, Kingston, I conducted research on the lipoprotein antigen, Factor H binding protein of Neisseria meningitidis. I was then given a Lecturership contract for 2 years and qualified as FHEA. In 2017 I was appointed as Assistant Professor to work in the Synthetic Biology Research Centre headed by Professor Minton, in the School of Life Sciences. My group is developing novel mucosal vaccine delivery systems funded by the School, BBSRC, MRC, MICRA and professional societies.

Expertise Summary

I have 4 PhD students, a senior technician, Dr Jaime Hughes, experienced in immunological assays and a PDRA, Dr Bunmi Omorotionmwan, experienced in Clostridial genetic engineering. My group is developing novel mucosal vaccine platforms and we are validating their efficacy against Clostridioides difficile. We plan to roll out our technologies to target priority AMR pathogens including Shigella, ETEC and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Our platforms include encapsulated recombinant antigens, probiotic and commensal recombinant spore platforms and encapsulated outer membrane vesicles.

Teaching Summary

I teach Medical Microbiology to undergraduates and MSc students in Life Sciences and to medical students on the following modules;

MEDS3059, Microorganisms and Disease (LIFE/1007), Microbial Genetics and Genomics (LIFE/4065), Prevention and Treatment of Infection (LIFE/4007) and Human Pathogens (LIFE/4116).

I supervise MSc and BMedSci students for their research projects.

Research Summary

My area of research is in developing novel mucosal vaccine platforms which we are initially validating against Clostridioides difficile. C. diff is an urgent global health threat. Being a gut… read more

Recent Publications

Current Research

My area of research is in developing novel mucosal vaccine platforms which we are initially validating against Clostridioides difficile. C. diff is an urgent global health threat. Being a gut pathogen, we are focusing on delivery systems suitable for oral administration to mimic natural infection and generate local as well as systemic protective immune responses. My school-funded PhD student Cansu Karyal completed in March 2021 and developed a lipoprotein:liposome-based oral platform with encouraging preclinical results. My BBSRC DTP-funded student, Carl Aston, completed in September and worked on a spore vaccine. Specifically he used a commensal gut spore-forming bacterium to deliver engineered antigens to the small intestine. I have 2 other BBSRC DTP-funded students in their final year: Barbora Martinkova developing a recombinant E. coli outer membrane vesicle (OMV) vaccine platform, and Liam Wood who has been testing a recombinant probiotic spore-forming organism supported by my Post-Doc, Bunmi Omorotionmwan, initially funded by MICRA, MRC, BBSRC then Wellcome Trust. The work of my group is supported by full-time senior technician Jaime Hughes. I additionally collaborate with Dr Tanya Monaghan, a Gastroenterologist with expertise in Faecal Microbiotia Transplant therapy for recurrent C. diff patients.

I also have an interest in pathogenic Neisseria, and worked on eluciding the molecular pathway for the biosynthesis, processing and surface localisation of the meningoccoal lipoprotein and vaccine antigen, Factor H binding protein (FHbp). My PhD student, Ronni da Silva working on this project, funded by the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) completed in 2019 and is now a post-doc at MIT Singapore.

Past Research

My interest in developing vaccines against pathogenic bacteria began during my DPhil at the University of Oxford. Here I investigated the conservancy of lipopolysaccharide of Haemophilus influenzae, a vaccine candidate at the time. With the breakthrough of the Hib vaccine successfully combating childhood meningitis caused by this bacterium, I went on to research a more life threatening bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis for which improved vaccines were urgently needed. At the National Institute for Medical Research I investigated lipoarabinonmannan as a possible vaccine antigen. In addition, I generated recombinant Mycobacterium bovis BCG over-expressing potent M. tuberculosis antigens to improve its immunogenicity. After securing funding from the NIH from a collaboration with Colorado State University and Institut Pasteur, I worked as PI at Imperial College then at the affiliated TB group at the AHVLA.

Following a career break, I chose to research Neisseria meningitidis, another bacterium that causes meningitis and septicaemia, at my local University, Kingston London. .

The research I have conducted on each bacterium has involved identifying the genes involved in the biosynthesis, assembly and export of vaccine antigens. A fundamental understanding of the molecular mechanism of expression of surface antigens moreover inefficiencies or failure to do so by certain strains enables improved prediction of vaccine efficacy as well as more robust evaluation of clinical trial data.

Future Research

The longer term plan is to roll out our vaccine platforms to target other pathogens of higher priority including Shigella.

School of Life Sciences

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham NG7 2UH

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