Leeds Professor receives Leverhulme Trust Emeritus Fellowship

A Leeds professor has been granted over £15,000 to continue his study of microbial resistance to drugs.

Diagram of Professor Henderson's work into antibiotic resistance.

Professor Peter Henderson of the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology has received the Leverhulme Trust Emeritus Fellowship for his research into “novel microbial transport proteins that contribute to drug resistance”. 

Primary research suggests natural organisms were immune to the effects of commonly used antiseptics, using metabolic energy to pump the germicide from the inside to the outside of the cell.

The research began at the University of Macquarie in Australia, but Professor Henderson and the University of Leeds’ facilities were able to help identify and categorise the proteins rejecting the antiseptic.

The research revealed a protein called AceI, found in the infectious bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii. The bacterium has now become a superbug and is now one of the biggest threats in medicine. It is able to pump out the chlorhexidine, used commonly in hospitals in products like soap and mouthwash, and has become an increasingly commonplace infection in hospitals treating wounded soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Professor Henderson has worked in antibiotic resistance for 15 years. His latest study will use the grant to find a new anti-bacterial to overcome AceI and help fight the infection.

The Leverhulme award is granted to usually retiring academics across a wide variety of fields, offering financial support to help them complete their research. Professor Henderson has been focused on the project for the last 2 and half years, and has been granted an extended two years study.

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