Case study: Dr Anand Prakash Maurya

Royal Society-SERB Newton International Fellowship
University of Birmingham

Elimination of bacterial plasmids responsible for spread of antibiotic resistance genes

Dr Anand Prakash Maurya was awarded the Royal Society-SERB Newton International Fellowship in 2016, funded by a partnership between the Royal Society and the Science and Engineering Board of India (SERB) through the Newton-Bhahba Fund. For the duration of his fellowship, Dr Maurya is based at the University of Birmingham, conducting research into elimination of bacterial plasmids responsible for spread of antibiotic resistance genes, under the supervision of Professor Christopher Thomas. 

Why did you apply for a Newton International Fellowship?
There were several reasons I applied for a Newton International Fellowship. Firstly, as this Fellowship is a collaboration between the United Kingdom and India, both the individual (me) and the countries benefit from it. The Fellowship is provided by the Royal Society which is one of the most prestigious scientific academies; this allows me to meet other researchers in my field, develop my research network and establish collaborations. Also, my Fellowship is enabling me to work with a world leading expert, Professor Christopher Thomas, who is a pioneer in my research field. 

Tell about your research.
Antimicrobial resistance is a growing challenge worldwide, for various reasons including overuse and use without prescription, as well as lack of proper control policy. The host laboratory for my Fellowship, Professor Thomas’ lab, has been pioneering a response which is called “plasmid curing”, or a “pCURE” system. We are trying to manipulate plasmids and make an efficient plasmid (pCURE system) that can displace the bacterial plasmids that cause bacterial resistance.

What are you hoping your project will achieve over the course of your fellowship?
At a more general level, through this project I will get a thorough grounding in plasmid biology, through fundamental studies in plasmid biology and development of the pCURE system for plasmid displacement. More specifically, I am trying to make an efficient plasmid that will displace the resistance causing plasmid from the gut microbiome.  

What impact might your research have in the future?
Antimicrobial resistance is becoming a global concern and one of the greatest threats to human health, and it is rising day by day. So, we need to address it urgently - if it is not addressed by 2050, it could kill more people than road traffic accidents or cancer. 

My research could have great impact in future, as curing of plasmids is one alternative approach which could restore the ability to control infection by pathogenic strains. Plasmids are quite diverse and have a broad host range and complex organisation, so understanding their biology will help to underpin their exploitation.