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Stephen Dolan shortlisted for Young Microbiologist of the Year Competition

last modified May 31, 2018 11:07 AM
Dr Stephen Dolan from the Welch Group has been shortlisted for the Sir Howard Dalton Young Microbiologist of the Year 2018 competition.

Stephen completed his PhD in Molecular Microbiology at Maynooth University in Ireland, where he unravelled the biosynthesis of toxic secondary metabolites produced by the human fungal pathogen, Aspergillus fumigatus. Continuing his research into the pathogenicity of microorganisms, in 2016, Stephen joined Dr Martin Welch’s laboratory in our Department as a postdoctoral researcher to investigate the link between central carbon metabolism and virulence in the bacterial pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Many people with cystic fibrosis will develop a P. aeruginosa infection during their lives, which can lead to a chronic infection that reduces lung function and, subsequently, life expectancy. Stephen’s research explores how P. aeruginosa regulates the activation of key nutrient utilisation pathways, such as the glyoxylate shunt. This two-step metabolic pathway allows P. aeruginosa to grow on acetate or fatty acids as a sole carbon source, a feat which is crucial for bacterial persistence in the lung and to resist antibiotic intervention. As P. aeruginosa displays an inherent resistance to many commonly used antibiotics, understanding key metabolic pathways and branch points will allow us to develop essential new antimicrobials that specifically target this pathogen.

Stephen has recently been awarded a competitive Herchel Smith Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue pursuing his research interests within the Welch Group. This work will examine the molecular mechanisms that govern inter-Kingdom interactions during polymicrobial infection.

Speaking about being shortlisted for the Young Microbiologist of the Year Competition, Stephen said: “I am very grateful to be nominated for this award and to have my research recognised by the Microbiology Society. I could not have carried out this work without the support from my mentor Dr Martin Welch, along with collaborators in the Department of Biochemistry and elsewhere. I am really looking forward to the final competition in September!


The Sir Howard Dalton Young Microbiologist of the Year Award recognises and rewards excellence in science communication by a Microbiology Society member who is a postgraduate student or postdoctoral researcher. Stephen was shortlisted for the competition following his oral paper presentation, “Knowing the Enemy: How does Pseudomonas aeruginosa regulate carbon flux through its glyoxylate shunt?”, at the 2018 Microbiology Society Annual Conference.


Dr Stephen Dolan.

Credit: Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge


Rhys Grant

Publication Date

31 May 2018