Pierre Charlesworth

Doctoral candidate at University of Milan

About me

Having been inspired by volunteering at organic farms in central Italy, I studied at SRUC to obtain a BSc in Agricultural Bioscience (awarded by University of Glasgow, 2017 –2021). During the degree, I was introduced to molecular biology concepts and decided to further develop my expertise by obtaining a MSc in Biotechnology (University of Glasgow, 2021 –2022). During my Master’s thesis, I was supervised by Professor John Christie on a project engineering the phototropin 2LOV2 protein to enhance the photosynthetic capability of barley.

My interests lie in understanding how microbes function, both individually (revealing the intricate systems within each cell) and collectively (how they communicate and form complex communities). By joining the BREAKthrough network as a doctoral candidate, I aim to expand our knowledge of the bacterial outer membrane and assist in developing new drugs that target its assembly. On a personal level, I look forward to gaining valuable practical and interpersonal skills through this position, equipping me to pursue a rewarding career in microbiology research. The BREAKthrough project offers an exciting opportunity to collaborate with leading experts and tackle fundamental questions in bacterial cell biology.

About my project
DC04: A new biological reporter to signal disruption of the LPS and consequent OM destabilisation

Antimicrobial resistance, which is caused by multi-drug-resistant bacterial pathogens is a global health emergency. Gram-negative bacteria notably hinder effective treatment because of their impermeable outer membrane (OM). Consequently, many standard-of-care (SOC) antibiotics cannot access intracellular targets in Gram-negative species. The objective of the BREAKthrough project is to sensitise Gram-negative bacteria to these antibiotics by making their OM permeable. In this context, this doctoral project will optimise and implement novel screening assays that report for the loss of OM integrity based on the expression of available bio-reporters and use them for the screening of libraries to assess OM leakiness, ability to sensitise to selected antibiotics and mode of action study.