The Cardiff Institute of Tissue Engineering and Repair (CITER for short) hosted it’s first ever biofilms workshop this year, at the Haydn Ellis building of the Cardiff University School of Biosciences. The event was sponsored by those closely involved in microbiology and biofilms research; The Society for Applied Microbiology, The Microbiology Society, and GAMA Healthcare. The overall aim was to bring together established experts, researchers and students alike, with a common goal of furthering biofilm research within the UK. There were a number of excellent talks, and a couple of networking periods that stimulated many discussions about potential collaborative opportunities and the current state of biofilm research within the UK.
The event was attended by both academics and representatives of industry, all of which have a common interest of solving biofilm-related issues. My involvement in this, with my current working arrangements of three days per week meant that the workshop fell on a non-working day for me, so despite the obvious advantages it would bring, I was going to be home with my youngest on that day. However, I was drafted in at the last hour on Friday evening, with a. Request to stand in for someone who was unable to attend the conference, but was booked for an oral presentation. I of course given the opportunity stepped up and agreed to present, and am very grateful for my grandmother in-law for agreeing to have my youngest whole I attended the event! This however meant that I missed the first half of the workshop, with presentations from the other side of thw world with Prof Karen Vickery giving a video conference call presentation on biofilms in breast implants and associations with cancer. Video calls are never without hiccups, and this was no exception by all accounts, with some humouous issues including creaky doors, and the family pet dog!
This was followed by a keynote presentation from Prof. Andrew McBain of University of Manchester with a presentation titled ‘Biofilms and sessile microbial communities: from the lab to the environment and backagain”. Prof McBain is a well renowned biofilms researcher, and his talk was very well received by all in attendance.
The talks that followed included dry biofilms in Healthcare settings with Cardiff University’s own Katarzyna Ledwoch, microbiome and aspects of how we perceive and consider them with Prof Julian Marches, with whom I have a current grant application in review, so fingers are crossed on that front. Dr Katja Hill presented some work of the Advanced Therapy Group related to biofilms in cystic fibrosis, and Dr Mike. Harbottle who’s presentation was regarding an important world of environmental biofilms.
Lunch time approached not a moment too soon with eagerly hungry attendees, and with that, an opportunity for the poster presenters to stand by and discuss their posters, all 5 or 6 of them! There was definitely scope for many more posters, particularly with the potential prize of £100 at stake! Lunchtime also played host for plenty of networking and potential collaborative discussions. It was great to meet with a number of industry representatives and see their perspective of biofilms research and current needs, so let’s see if something comes of these discussions in the coming years.
The afternoon session started with a second keynote presentation from Prof Jeremy Webb of the University of Southampton, who gave us an insight into bacterial pneumonia, and possible novel treatment strategies using a combined approach of NO and drugs. Very exciting work indeed. He then went on to introduce the National Biofilms Innovation Centre, a newly established consortium of academics and industry, to being together biofilms research with international reach. This is a very exciting chance for collaborations to forge between academics, and industry with matched funding of approximately £26m over the coming five years.
My talk followed, and was a somewhat detailed introduction and overview of my PhD project, titled “Denture-associated biofilms: microbial composition, interactions and infection”. This was a comprehensive talk on the development of an in vitro biofilm model for denture biofilm, development of in vitro 3D oral mucosal tissue model, and infection analyses, then the clinical study to characterise bacterial microbiome of patients with and without denture-stomatitis to identify microbial associations with the disease.
Fellow group member Josh Twigg followed my talk, with another excellent talk on denture-associated biofilms, but from a perspective of respiratory pathogens and pneumonia, and microwave treatment of these denture biofilms. Josh’s work is still ongoing, but showed some exiting promise towards furthering our knowledge and possible treatments of these biofilms! Watch this space!