December 2020. From left: Eva Pyrihová, Kaneez Fatima, Regine Haugland, Martin Watson, and Mark van der Giezen.

Group leader

Dr Mark van der Giezen
Professor of Biological Chemistry (mark.vandergiezen{at}uis.no).

My research mainly focusses on intestinal microbiology and adaptations to the environmental conditions in the animal gut. The topic of my Ph.D. at the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) and subsequent postdoc at the Natural History Museum (London, UK) focussed on rumen microbes that play an important role in animal nutrition. The topic shifted partly to human intestinal parasites during my postdoc at Royal Holloway, University of London (UK). During my lectureship (~Assistant Professor) at Queen Mary, University of London (UK), research focussed on biochemical adaptations to life without oxygen as found in the intestine. I moved to the University of Exeter (UK) in 2007 as Senior Lecturer and became an Associate Professor of Evolutionary Biochemistry. In Exeter, my work partly moved back to how microbes play important roles in livestock and the role of the microbiome on animal health. I became Theme Lead for Aquatic Diseases for the new Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture Futures in 2017 because of my growing interest in disease in aquaculture. Since Summer 2019, I am a Professor of Biological Chemistry at the Centre for Organelle Research at the University of Stavanger in Norway. Here, I continue my research on important human and animal parasites and have established strong research links with the academic hospital in Stavanger.


CV Mark van der Giezen


Postdoctoral scientists

Dr Martin Watson, Molecular Intestinal Microbiology (martin.watson{at}uis.no).
Gastrointestinal diseases are a considerable cause of morbidity and mortality in the western world. Although traditionally seen as a disease of developed nations, there is an increasing incidence globally, possibly linked to changing diets. Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome are linked to substantial healthcare costs. These diseases negatively affect the quality of life of patients and therapy is therefore both aimed at treatment as well as improving patient wellbeing.
Microbial profiling studies have indicated that the intestinal microbiome of inflammatory bowel disease patients differs from that of healthy individuals. In patients with inflammatory bowel disease, a decrease in strict anaerobic bacteria and a shift towards facultative anaerobes seem to suggest a role for oxygen in intestinal dysbiosis. Globally, there is an increasing emphasis on aiming to understand the role of the intestinal microbiome on health. There are clear links between various diseases and the microbial composition of the gut. Treatments using probiotics aimed at manipulating the gut microbiome, and even faecal transplants from healthy donors, are increasingly used to treat intestinal diseases.

This project will bring together expertise in intestinal disease, clinical histopathology and intestinal molecular microbiology. Stavanger University Hospital has been involved in several clinical trials (led by clinician Tore Grimstad) aimed at understanding inflammatory bowel disease, treatment and improving quality of life. This project is funded by the Norwegian Government
and jointly supervised by Professor Emiel Janssen and Professor Tore Grimstad (Stavanger University Hospital).

Dr Eva Pyrihová, Molecular Parasitology (eva.pyrihova{at}uis.no).
Oomycetes are a large group of protists that include various pathogens of crops and animals. I am interested how mitochondrial biochemical peculiarities can be exploited to tackle these diseases. Using a combination of molecular biology, biochemistry and cell biology I will work on the intestinal parasite Blastocystis which is found in the gut many people around the world. This project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council and is a collaboration with Professor Edmund Kunji at the University of Cambridge and Dr. Tasos Tsaousis at the University of Kent.

PhD-students

Georgios Kontellas, PhD student Biochemical Parasitology (gk281{at}exeter.ac.uk).
Liverfluke causes massive economic damage to the cattle and sheep industry due to poor animal health and production. In addition, in some settings it caused disease in humans as well. Understanding how current commercial drugs actually work and interact with the flukes metabolism is important for the development of new drugs. Drug resistance is currently a problem and I hope to be able to provide novel drug targets to control and eradicate this serious threat to food security. Dr. David Studholme (University of Exeter, UK) is the main supervisor and Dr. Misha Isupov and myself are co-supervisors.

Skye Marshall, PhD student Biophysical Parasitology (sm781{at}exeter.ac.uk).
The biophysical changes happening at the membrane of encysting Entamoeba is completely unknown. How a rigid cell wall is deposited on a fluid membrane is an amazing problem. In addition to this, if we want to disrupt cyst formation as a possible intervention strategy against this deadly human pathogen that kills some 100,000 people each year, then we need exactly this kind of information to make informed decisions regarding potential drug targets.
This EPSRC funded project is secured by Prof. Peter Winlove and Dr. Peter Petrov in Physics (University of Exeter, UK) and I was co-supervising when still in Exeter.

Joanna L'Heureux, PhD student Human Health and Nutrition (jl507{at}exeter.ac.uk).
Human health is tightly linked with the food people consume. However, how are nutrients in food taken up and made available to human cells? It has beeen discovered that microbes on the tongue play crucial roles in nitrate and nitrite metabolism and human health. Understanding this interaction by combing next generation sequencing with human physiology and health we aim to help in our quest for healthy ageing. This Wellcome Trust funded studentship is supervised by Prof. Andy Jones and Dr. Anni Vanhatalo (Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, UK), Prof. Paul Winyard (Medical School, University of Exeter, UK).

Annabel Rice, PhD student Fish Virology (ar605{at}exeter.ac.uk).
Viruses cause serious disease in fish but are often detected at a very late stage during infection. We aim to develop better diagnostic methods to be able to detect viruses before large outbreaks occur. We also hope to be able to boost the immune system of fish so they are better able to defend themselves against incoming viruses. The aim of this project is to protect fish as aquaculture will become a more important source of food for humanity in the future. This a University of Exeter and Cefas Strategic Alliance funded PhD studentship and jointly supervised with Dr David Stone at Cefas (UK), Dr Tetsu Kudoh in Biosciences (University of Exeter, UK).


MSc-students

Fatima Kaneez, MSc student Parasitology (k.fatima{at}stud.uis.no).
Understanding how intestinal parasites such as Entamoeba histolytica produce infectious particles known as cysts is crucial if we want to disrupt the lifecycle and spread of this deadly human pathogen. This project aims to understand the underlying molecular mechanism of encystation with the ultimate aim to disrupt this process in this intestinal parasite. Methods include molecular and cellular biology, parasitology and biochemistry.

Regine Haugland, MSc student Veterinary Microbiology (r. haugland{at}stud.uis.no).
Worldwide, pneumonia is a common cause of disease in sheep. Acute outbreaks can result in sudden deaths of sheep, whilst chronic disease results in reduced growth rates. Norwegian sheep and lambs are reputed to have high standards of health but in the slaughterhouse, pneumonia and pleuritis are common findings recorded during routine meat inspection. This projects will investigate the cause of these findings. Methods include molecular biology, microbiology and histopathology.


Alumni

Kaneez Fatima. Former MSc-student (2019-2020), now PhD-student at the University of Helsinki, Finland.
Dr Corey Holt. Former PhD-student (2015-2018) and postdoc (2019-2020), now Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Britsh Columbia, Canada.

Dr Maulood Turfah. Former PhD-student (2014-2019), now Lecturer at the University of Baghdad, College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Parasitology.

Dr Jamie McFadzean. Former PhD-student (2014-2019), now Senior Policy Advisor at Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Dr Diana Minardi. Former PhD-student (2013-2017), now Molecular Biologist at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas).

Dr Sheera Abdulla. Former PhD-student (2011-2016), now Laboratory Manager at The Rosalind Franklin Institute.

Dr Michael Bottery. Former
MRes-student Bioinformatics (2013), now Postdoctoral Research Associate at University of York.
Dr Maria Siegesmund.
Former PhD-student (2007-2011) & post-doc (2011), now working at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Department of Experimental Phycology and Culture Collection of Algae, Germany and retrained as secondary school science teacher.
Dr Kerem Terali.
Former PhD-student (2006-2010), now Associate Professor at the Near East University in Cyprus
.
Dr Kailash Chand.
Former Post-doc (2009-2010), now Scientist E ( Ramalingaswami Fellow) at the National Institute for Research in Environmental Health in India.
Dr Joseph Harvey.
Former Wellcome Trust Vacation Scholar (Summer 2010). Now at Appleton Woods Ltd.
Dr Ifeanyi Nwachukwu.
Former MSc Biocatalysis student (2009), now Assistant Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, USA.
Dr Nebibe Mutlu.
Former Erasmus placement student (Summer 2009), now Postdoctoral Researcher at University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, USA.
Dr Karleigh Hamblin. Former PhD-student (2005-2008), now at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Porton Down.
Dr Matthew Rogers.
Former Post-doc (2007-2008), now Assistant Professor at the Medical School at the University of Pittsburgh, USA.