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Approved research

Microbiology, disease and genetics

Principal Investigator: Dr Daniel Wilson
Approved Research ID: 53100
Approval date: April 1st 2020

Lay summary

Why do some people get sick and others do not? If we can understand this question, we have the potential to step in and reduce disease. Germs are important sources of sickness because they can cause infection directly and they can increase the risk of other diseases like cancer. Germs can be difficult to treat, and the situation is getting worse because antibiotic resistance is rising. This makes it more pressing to develop new treatments for the diseases that germs cause. In our research we are helping fight germs in different ways. We search for differences in genes that explain why some people get sick and others do not. The genes we find tell us how germs cause disease. This gives scientists new ideas: for how to stop them, and how to diagnose them. We track the spread of infection. This warns us about new dangers, including antibiotic resistance, and gives information that can help stop them. We use what we know to improve healthcare, for example by diagnosing infections more quickly in individual patients. This gets patients on the right drugs faster, and reduces the spread of antibiotic resistance. We wish to collaborate with the UK Biobank to help us fight germs because: It is big, reducing uncertainty. It gives detailed information on diseases, genes and health, helping us connect different reasons people get sick. It is a long-term study, helping us understand the order of events. It is challenging, so the new tools we make should work in other settings. Most studies focus on single diseases, but working with the UK Biobank will help us to understand how germs fit into the bigger picture, and that improves our chances of making new discoveries that can improve healthcare.