Robert Atterbury graduated with a BSc (Biology), PhD (Microbiology) and PGCHE from the University of Nottingham. He undertook several postdoctoral research positions at the University of Bristol investigating the epidemiology and control of zoonotic pathogens such as Campylobacter, E. coli and Salmonella. After Bristol, he returned to Nottingham as a Research Fellow to explore the use of a predatory bacterium - Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus - to control Salmonella in poultry. He moved to the University's School of Veterinary Medicine and Science in 2010 where the main focus of his research has been the biological control of pathogenic bacteria using bacteriophages (viruses which infect bacteria). His group has been continuously funded by the British Council, European Union, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Innovate UK, Global Challenge Research Fund as well as industrial partners.
Robert Atterbury is Associate Professor in Microbiology. He co-convenes the Year 3 Veterinary Public Health module, contributes to the delivery of modules in years 2, 3, and 5, and is Sub-Dean for Postgraduate Teaching. His research interests include the use of bacteriophage and predatory bacteria for the biological control of infectious diseases, and the epidemiology and control of zoonotic pathogens in the food chain. He leads an active research group comprising several post-doctoral researchers and PhD students. He welcomes applications from prospective research students. The group's work has been funded by the British Council, European Union, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Innovate UK, Global Challenge Research Fund as well as industrial partners.
The growth of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens of animals and humans is predicted to cause up to 10 million deaths globally by 2050, and risks medicine falling into a pre-antibiotic 'dark… read more
COLOM, JOAN, BATISTA, DIEGO, BAIG, ABIYAD, TANG, YING, LIU, SIYANG, YUAN, FANGZHONG, BELKHIRI, AOUATIF, MARCELINO, LUCAS, BARBOSA, FERNANDA, RUBIO, MARCELA and OTHERS, 2019. Sex pilus specific bacteriophage to drive bacterial population towards antibiotic sensitivity Scientific Reports. 9(1), 1-11
SARKAR, SOUNAK, DAS, MAYUKH, BHOWMICK, TUSHAR SUVRA, KOLEY, HEMANTA, ATTERBURY, ROBERT, CHAKRABARTI, ALOK K and SARKAR, BANWARILAL L, 2018. Isolation and characterization of novel broad host range bacteriophages of Vibrio cholerae O1 from Bengal Journal of global infectious diseases. 10(2), 84
BHANDARE, SUDHAKAR, COLOM, JOAN, BAIG, ABIYAD, RITCHIE, JENNY M, BUKHARI, HABIB, SHAH, MUHAMMAD A, SARKAR, BANWARILAL L, SU, JINGLIANG, WREN, BRENDAN, BARROW, PAUL and OTHERS, 2018. Reviving Phage Therapy for the Treatment of Cholera The Journal of infectious diseases. 219(5), 786-794
BAIG, A., COLOM, J., BARROW, P., SCHOULER, C., MOODLEY, A., LAVIGNE, R. and ATTERBURY, R., 2017. Biology and genomics of an historic therapeutic Escherichia coli bacteriophage collection Frontiers in Microbiology. 8, 1652
The growth of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens of animals and humans is predicted to cause up to 10 million deaths globally by 2050, and risks medicine falling into a pre-antibiotic 'dark age'. Alternatives to antibiotics are desperately needed if this scenario is to be avoided. My group's research focuses on developing biological alternatives to infection control, using either viruses which infect bacteria (bacteriophages) or predatory bacteria (Bdellovibrio).
In research projects funded by the BBSRC, we are investigating how machine learning can be used with high-throughput screening and genomics to design bacteriophage cocktails to kill multi-drug resistant bacteria such as Salmonella. This research will provide crucial insights about how phage and bacteria interact, and how bioinformatics can be used in the real-time selection of the effective treatments.
In collaboration with Prof. Kevin Gough and Dr. Ben Maddison, our research students are using phage-display to select and design novel antimicrobial peptides which selectively target drug-resistant pathogenic bacteria of poultry and pigs. Development of these peptides into drugs may allow us to selectively kill target bacteria while leaving commensal 'friendly' bacteria unharmed - something which many current antibiotics are unable to do.
Bacteriophages may not only be used to kill target bacteria, but also direct evolution towards the loss of antibiotic resistance. In collaboration with Dr. Mike Jones, our research students are investigating how bacteriophage which target the antibiotic transmission apparatus of bacteria can be used to control the spread of resistance in bacterial communities.
Some diseases are polymicrobial - caused by multiple drug-resistant bacteria which often act in synergy to worsen clinical disease. Such infections may be difficult to treat with bacteriophage alone. Our students, in collaboration with Dr. Laura Hobley at the School of Biosciences, are investigating how bacteriophage treatments can be combined with Bdellovibrio to treat polymicrobial infections in animals which may previously have been intractable.
Previously, Dr. Atterbury worked as a Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol, where he investigated the epidemiology of Campylobacter and Salmonella in UK poultry flocks. During this time he was also involved in a number of collaborations between academia and industry in the areas of meat and process hygiene, vaccine delivery, competitive exclusion and bacteriophage therapy.