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Dr Rebecca Weiser

Dr Rebecca Weiser

Research Associate

School of Biosciences

Email
weiserr@cardiff.ac.uk
Campuses
Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

Overview

I am a postdoctoral research associate working in the Microbiomes, Microbes and Informatics group in the School of Biosciences. I am currently funded by a Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Award and my project focuses on the application of culture-independent techniques to investigate the cystic fibrosis lung microbiota in children. This project is in partnership with the CF-Sputum Induction Trial (CF-SpIT) which is being performed at the Children's Hospital for Wales (Cardiff, UK).

I have previously worked on other projects examing the lung microbiota in adults with cystic fibrosis (School of Biosciences in partnership with AlgiPharma AS), novel decontamination technologies (School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and School of Chemistry in partnership with GAMA Healthcare) and bacterial contamination of home and care products (School of Biosciences in partnership with Unilever). 

I am also very interested in bacteriophage research, particularly the isolation and characterision of bacteriophages that infect Burkholderia bacteria and investigating how phages can be used in biocontrol applications for Burkholderia. I am developing an independent research programme in this area with the long-term goal of establishing a research career focussing on bacteriophage biology and biocontrol.

Biography

Education and qualifications

  • 2006-2009: B.Sc. (hons) Microbiology (Cardiff University)
  • 2009-2010: Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (Swansea Metropolitan University, now University of Wales Trinity Saint David)
  • 2010-2011: MSc in Medical Microbiology (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
  • 2011-2015: PhD in Microbiology (Cardiff University)
  • 2018: Research Team Leadership AdvanceHE Endorsed Certificate (Cardiff University)

Career

  • April 2015-March 2017: Senior Technician (Cardiff University, BIOSI)
  • April 2017-January 2018: Genetic Technologist (Institute of Medical Genetics for Wales)
  • February 2018-July 2019: Postdoctoral Research Associate (Cardiff University, BIOSI)
  • July 2019-November 2019: Postdoctoral Research Associate (Cardiff University, PHRMY)
  • December 2019-present: Postdoctoral Research Associate (Cardiff University, BIOSI)

Professional memberships

  • Member of the Microbiology Society (and the Early Career Microbiologists Forum)
  • Member of the Society for Applied Microbiology
  • Member of the European Cystic Fibrosis Society

Committees and reviewing

  • Cardiff Institute for Tissue Engineering and Repair (CITER), Research Committee member (December 2019 - present)
  • Microbiology Society, Microbial Genomics ECM Board of Reviewers (November 2020 - present)
  • Microbiology Society, Building Communities Committee member (January 2021 - present)
  • GW4 Building Communities Committee member (January 2021 - present)

Publications

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2015

2014

Research interests

Cystic fibrosis (CF) lung infection and culture-independent techniques to investigate the microbiota

Culture-independent techniques have revealed that the microbial diversity in CF lung infections is far more complex than previously shown by culture-based methods. Culture-independent techniques and microbiota analysis are being increasingly used in translational studies and clinical trials to link microbiota composition to clinical outcomes. I have worked with AlgiPharma AS to examine changes in the CF lung microbiota during clinical trials of their novel anti-infective therapeutic OligoG (Weiser et al. 2021). I am currently funded by a US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation grant and working with the CF-Sputum Induction Trial (CF-SpIT) (led by Dr Julian Forton at the Children's Hospital for Wales, Cardiff, UK) to investigate the lung microbiota in children with CF, including how different sampling techniques capture microbial diversity and how the microbiota evolves with age.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa as an opportunistic pathogen and a contaminant of industrial products and processes

P. aeruginosa is an important pathogen in CF lung infections that is multi-drug resistant and very difficult to treat. Examining how P. aeruginosa may develop resistance using relevant models is therefore important. I have collaborated with the Advanaced Therapies Group in the Cardiff School of Dentistry and AlgiPharma AS to examine how P. aeruginosa adapts to the novel CF therapeutic OligoG when growing in biofilms (Oakley et al. 2021). I was also involved in a collaborative international study to characterise a panel of P. aeruginosa strains as a resource for P. aeruginosa researchers (Cullen et al. 2015).

P. aeruginosa is also frequently found as a contaminant of industrial products such as home and personal care products. As an opportunistic pathogen that can pose a risk to vulnerable consumers, it is considered an 'objectionable organism'. During my PhD (see Thesis) I worked with Unilever Research and Development Port Sunlight to investigate detection methods for P. aeruginosa (Weiser et al. 2014) and characterise industrial P. aeruginosa strains (Weiser and Green et al. 2019). In addition, I also examined the reporting of EU non-sterile product microbial contamination incidents, which are largely performed using culture-based approaches and in nearly 50% of cases do not identify the causative organism (Cunningham-Oakes and Weiser et al. 2019).

Isolation and characterisation of Burkholderia bacteriophages

My interest in Burkholderia bacteriophages started during my MSc and I have since sustained this interest around other research projects by conducting independent research and supervising undergraduate and MSc students at Cardiff University. There is limited research into bacteriophages and prophages of Burkholderia, a bacterial genus that has medical, environmental and industrial impact. I have examined the prophage content of Burkholderia species and isolated and characterised spontaneously induced Burkholderia bacteriophages (Weiser et al. 2020). I am now extending this research to investigate the use of bacteriophages for the biocontrol of Burkholderia species and was awarded a Microbiology Society Harry Smith Vacation Studentship in 2020 to look at phage treatment of Burkholderia plant diseases.

Collaborative projects

I am keen to collaborate with other researchers and apply my expertise to different research projects. I recently collaborated with researchers at Queen's University Belfast and the University of Bath to investigate the effect of antibiotic delivery route on the gut microbiota (Kelly et al. 2021). I am also currently involved in a collaborative GW4 Crucible Seed Fund project to investigate the antimicrobial activity of medicinal maggot secretions for CF pathogens.

Research projects

  • June 2008 - August 2008: Wellcome Trust Summer research scholarship student working on the project ‘Screening plant roots and a collection of Burkholderia species held at Cardiff University (BIOSI) for antimicrobial activity’
  • September 2008 - February 2009: BSc final year research project at Cardiff University (BIOSI), ‘The genetic basis for antimicrobial production in Burkholderia gladioli’
  • June 2011 - September 2011: MSc at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine with a practical project based at Cardiff University (BIOSI), titled ‘Isolation & characterisation of bacteriophages active against Burkholderia’
  • October 2011 - April 2015: BBSRC-CASE PhD student at Cardiff University (BIOSI), with Unilever as the industrial partner, investigating ‘The resistance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to preservatives used in industrial formulations’
  • April 2015 - March 2017: Senior technician at Cardiff University (BIOSI) working with AlgiPharma AS. This project involved the culture-independent analysis of microbial diversity in cystic fibrosis sputum samples during clinical trials of OligoG
  • February 2018 - July 2019: Research associate at Cardiff University (BIOSI), working with the CF-SpIT clinical trial on a Wellcome Trust ISSF award funded project ‘Translating novel sampling and molecular-microbiota research diagnostics into clinical practice for cystic fibrosis lung infection’
  • July 2019 - November 2019: Research associate at Cardiff University (PHRMY) on an EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account project working with GAMA Healthcare to undertake translational work on novel decontamination technology developed at Cardiff University
  • December 2019 - present: Postdoctoral research associate at Cardiff University (BIOSI) on a US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation award investigating 'Next generation induced sputum diagnostics to prevent infection in cystic fibrosis'

Grants

  • Researcher Co-I, Wellcome Trust ISSF Translational Kickstart Award (2017): 'Translating novel sampling and molecular-microbiota research diagnostics into clinical practice for cystic fibrosis lung infection’
  • Researcher Co-I, US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Award (2019): 'Next generation induced sputum diagnostics to prevent infection in cystic fibrosis'
  • Researcher Co-I, EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account project (2019)
  • PI, Cardiff University BIOSI Seedcorn funding (2020): 'Genomic analysis of bacteriophages infecting Burkholderia bacteria'
  • PI, Microbiology Society Harry Smith Vacation Studentship (2020): 'Bacteriophages as biocontrol agents for Burkholderia plant diseases'
  • Co-I, GW4 Crucible Seed Funding (2020): 'Precision maggot therapy against key cystic fibrosis pathogens'