Elspeth Smith

Education and career history

Present: PhD student, School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield

2019-2023: MBiolSci, Biochemistry, University of Sheffield (1:1)

- Final year laboratory project: Building a platform for phage engineering to enable

targeted pathogen killing (Professor Graham Stafford and Dr Stephane Mesnage)

- Third year laboratory project: Characterization of a novel protein involved in the

biosynthesis of the essential B vitamin cobalamin (Dr Andrew Hitchcock)

2022: Society of Applied Microbiology summer scholarship, University of Sheffield, School of

Biosciences (Dr Aidan Taylor)

- Developing a high-throughput reporter for intracellular selenium availability in the

foodborne pathogen Campylobacter jejuni

Current research

My PhD is funded by the National Institute of Healthcare and Research (NIHR) Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) that is a partnership between Sheffield teaching hospitals NHS foundation trust and the University of Sheffield. My project aims to investigate the use of bacteriophage therapy to treat polymicrobial Diabetic foot ulcer infections (DFUs) focussing on isolating phages against multidrug resistant organisms (MDROs). Antimicrobial resistance is a huge global health issue that causes many infections to be untreatable. DFUs can become infected with many MDROs and prevent effective antibiotic treatment,increasing the rate of lower level limb amputations. Over 80% of amputations in people with diabetes are due to infected DFUs and 70% of people die within 5 years of having an amputation. Reducing the risk of untreatable DFU infections is of utmost concern and could save the NHS millions of pounds. A new wave of interest into bacteriophage therapy has re-booted phage research and aims to isolate and characterise libraries of phages that can be used as viable alternatives to antibiotics.