Researcher of the month – University of Copenhagen

CARTNET > Researcher of the month

Researcher of the month:

Name: Anaëlle Fait
Email: anaelle.fait@sund.ku.dk
Twitter: @AnaelleFait 

Affiliation:
University of Copenhagen
Department for Veterinary and Animal Sciences
Stigbøjlen 4
1870 Frederiksberg C

Education and Experience

In June 2015, I obtained my B.Sc. in General Biology at Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France. During my studies, I grew a strong interest for the field of microbiology, which led me to apply for an internship in the team of Pr. Dominique Schneider, “Adaptation and Pathogenicity of Microorganisms”, at the same University. There, I studied the evolution of antibiotic resistance in an Escherichia coli long-term evolution experiment. From this internship resulted a lasting enthusiasm for the study of antibiotic resistance and microbial evolution.

From 2015 to 2017, I studied for a Master’s degree in Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Grenoble Alpes University in France. This pluridisciplinary program allowed for a broad range of qualifications, among which conducting a research project, and developing oral and written skills for the presentation of research results. Furthermore, it offered a rich theoretical background with conferences from international speakers.

During that time, I conducted two internships in the Infection Microbiology group led by Pr. Søren Molin and Pr. Helle Krogh Johansen, M.D., in the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at the Technical University of Denmark. During my first internship, I studied the phenotypic evolution of Pseudomonas aeruginosa during chronic infection in cystic fibrosis patients via growth competition assays. In my second internship, I focused on the role of Resistance-Nodulation-Division efflux pumps in that evolution and could write my Master thesis “Role of MexXY-OprM and MexAB-OprM efflux pumps in adaptation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to the airways of cystic fibrosis patients”.

ESR9 - Intrinsic resistance to antibiotics

Project description

Vancomycin, a last-resort glycopeptide antibiotic, is the preferred treatment against MRSA infections, however, Staphylococcus aureus strains with decreased susceptibility to vancomycin (VISA) have been spreading during the past 20 years. VISA infections are associated with more severe infections and treatment failure. VISA strains harbor diverse and complex resistance mechanisms. They develop via the stepwise accumulation of mutations conferring mostly low-level resistance, resulting in tolerant phenotypes difficult to detect in the clinic.

By using in vitro experimental evolution, whole genome sequencing, and extensive phenotypic characterization, we wish to reconstruct the evolutionary processes driving the adaptation of S. aureus to vancomycin. Our aim is to narrow down the genes and conditions essential for the initial development of VISA and its stability, to study the influence of epistatic interactions, and to decipher the importance of specific evolutionary routes. In collaboration with Wageningen University, The Netherlands, and NAICONS srl, Italy, we will screen for adjuvant drugs affecting vancomycin resistance development and/or enhancing vancomycin efficacy. Altogether, our understanding of the evolutionary processes driving adaptation of S. aureus to vancomycin can help us find new approaches to combat antibiotic resistance development.