I am interested in the mechanisms by which bacteria export proteins. I focus on two key pathways: 1. The twin arginine protein transport (Tat) pathway. This pathway is found in the cytoplasmic membranes of most bacteria where it transports fully folded proteins across this membrane. We primarily study this pathway in the model organism Escherichia coli. 2. The Type VII or Ess pathway in the Gram positive pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. This pathway secretes virulence factors during host infection. In each case we take a range of genetic, biochemical and biophysical approaches to understand how these transport machines function.
Life is a juggling act but is helped by the fact that my partner is an academic, although we have to be very careful to coordinate our diaries! The flexibility of academic life was helpful when the children were small and one of us could work from home when they were ill. My partner was very supportive when the children were small as my career was just taking off, he did the lion’s share of caring responsibilities to allow me to travel and undertake committee work. For after-school care, we continue to benefit enormously by having family close by.