Dr Saikou Bah
Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
Global Challenges Research Fellow, Dr Saikou Bah, will focus on identifying the genetic determinants that cause Streptoccus pyogenes bacteria to infect the skin or throat, to develop treatments in low and middle income countries where this is a significant disease burden.
About Dr Saikou Bah's research:
"I will be investigating genetic determinants of Streptococcus pyogenes tissue tropism. S. pyogenes causes diseases ranging from mild superficial infection, to lethal septic shock, with a significant disease burden, especially in low and middle income countries. During the course of my fellowship, I will determine the diversity and the extent of genetic variation between Gambian and UK isolates using whole genome sequence data from skin and throat infections.
"Using molecular biology and bioinformatics approaches, I will identify genetic determinants that cause the bacteria to infect either the skin or the pharynx. Using tissue culture systems, I will gain mechanistic insight into the tissue tropism in skin and tonsil cells by employing RNA-sequencing transcriptomics. This will also be crucial for highlighting novel Group A Streptococcus therapeutic and vaccine development.
"As part of my project, I will spend time at the Medical Research Council, The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (MRCG), which will be valuable for technology transfer and collaboration between the two institutions. MRCG is building genomics capacity and during my fellowship, I will develop genomics and bioinformatics pipelines that can be transferred to MRCG.
"I am thrilled and honoured to have been awarded a Global Challenge Fellowship at the University of Sheffield and strongly believe it will be valuable for my career development and pathway to being an African research leader in infectious disease genomics. The fellowship will be based on using the state-of-the-art microbial genomics technology and bioinformatics methods. Crucially, this fellowship will provide me with a stepping stone and data to apply for major grants to become an independent scientist.
"I am looking forward to being part of the wider university research community and contributing to research outputs that will bring significant benefit to the Gambia and beyond. Furthermore, I anticipate to enhance and build my genomics and bioinformatics expertise and develop grant writing skills to allow me to win external funding in the future, to help address this and related global challenges."