The Peacock Group
Sharon Peacock is Professor of Public Health and Microbiology in the Department of Medicine. She is on secondment to Public Health England, where she is the Director of the National Infection Service. Sharon is also a Non-Executive Director at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and an independent advisor to the Drug Resistant Infection Priority Programme at the Wellcome. Sharon is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, an elected Member of EMBO, and was awarded a CBE for services to medical microbiology in 2015. The Peacock Group currently work on three main themes:
Theme 1: The biological basis of bacterial carriage and disease
This theme is managed by Dr Ewan Harrison (Wellcome Sanger Institute & University of Cambridge). Our current focus is on the biological basis of human carriage of the important human pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus, supported by funding from a Wellcome Collaborative Award.
Around 20% of the population are persistent carriers of this bacterium, which increases their risk of S. aureus infection. Why some people carry S. aureus while others never do is not understood and is being addressed through the CARRIAGE study, which is capitalising on existing cohorts of healthy volunteers who have been extensively characterised through human genome sequencing and phenotypic profiling. After screening 20,000 participants to determine whether or not they are S. aureus carriers, their genomes and a range of phenotypic, clinical and lifestyle information will be examined to identify associations with carrier status and the other bacterial constituents in the nose (where S. aureus is most often carried). Having established one or more hypotheses for the basis of carriage, these will be tested in relevant model systems.
Laboratory work is performed by Katie Bellis, Plamena Naydenova, and Sophia Girgis. Co-investigators include Professor John Danesh, Dr Carl Anderson, Professor Julian Parkhill, and Dr Joan Geoghegan.
This theme is managed by Dr Kathy Raven (University of Cambridge), and is funded by a Wellcome/Department of Health and Social Care HICF (Health Innovation Challenge Fund) award.
Our current focus is to make it increasingly feasible for routine microbiology laboratories to undertake whole genome sequencing. We are developing methods to support the proactive use of sequencing on pathogens associated with hospital acquired infections (such as MRSA) to provide rapid detection or exclusion of bacterial transmission and so support outbreak investigations. We are also developing methods to predict antibiotic resistance and detect genes that code for virulence factors such as toxins. Our work includes a focus on cost effectiveness in an NHS setting.
Analysis is conducted by Dr’s Kathy Raven and Narender Kumar, whilst the laboratory team is headed by Beth Blane and includes Danielle Leek and Sophia Girgis. Co-investigators include Professor Julian Parkhill and Dr’s Theo Gouliouris, Nick Brown and David Enoch.
Theme 3: Understanding the biology and transmission of bacterial pathogens
Using a One Health approach, members of the Peacock group have undertaken a series of bacterial genome-based studies to better define the possible sources of antibiotic resistant bacteria that cause serious infection in humans. This involves the isolation of bacteria (mostly Escherichia coli and Enterococcus faecium) from patients and their ward environment, livestock farms, the food chain and sewage. Bacterial genomes from these different sources are compared to define their relatedness, including the genes that code for antibiotic resistance. The group also use bacterial genome-wide association studies to explore mechanisms of disease caused by a range of pathogens.
This work is led by Dr’s Catherine Ludden and Francesc Coll, who are funded by individual Wellcome Fellowships. Collaborators include Profs Mark Holmes, Julian Parkhill and Martin Cormican, and Dr’s Theo Gouliouris and Nick Brown.
Ludden C, Raven KE, Jamrozy D, Gouliouris T, Blane B, Coll F, de Goffau M, Naydenova P, Horner C, Hernandez-Garcia J, Wood P, Hadjirin N, Radakovic M, Brown NM, Holmes M, Parkhill J, Peacock SJ. One Health genomic surveillance of Escherichia coli demonstrates distinct lineages and mobile genetic elements in isolates from humans versus livestock. mBio. 2019;10(1).
Gouliouris T, Raven KE, Ludden C, Blane B, Corander J, Horner CS, Hernandez-Garcia J, Wood P, Hadjirin NF, Radakovic M, Holmes MA, de Goffau M, Brown NM, Parkhill J, Peacock SJ. Genomic surveillance of Enterococcus faecium reveals limited sharing of strains and resistance genes between livestock and humans. MBio. 2018;9(6).
Coll F, Harrison EM, Toleman MS, Reuter S, Raven KE, Blane B, Palmer B, Kappeler ARM, Brown NM, Török ME, Parkhill J, Peacock SJ. Longitudinal genomic surveillance of MRSA in the UK reveals transmission patterns in hospitals and the community. Science Translational Medicine 2017;9(413).
Chewapreecha C, Holden MT, Vehkala M, Välimäki N,Yang Z, Harris SR, Mather AE, Tuanyok A, De Smet B, Le Hello S,Bizet C, Mayo M, Wuthiekanun V, Limmathurotsakul D, Phetsouvanh R, Spratt BG, Corander J, Keim P, Dougan G, Dance DA, Currie BJ, Parkhill J, Peacock SJ. Global and regional dissemination and evolution of Burkholderia pseudomallei. Nature Microbiology 2017;2:16263.
Raven KE, Reuter S, Gouliouris T, Reynolds R, Russell JE, Brown NM, Török ME, Parkhill J, Peacock SJ. Whole-genome sequencing defines the population structure and evolution of vancomycin resistance in Enterococcus faecalis. Nature Microbiol. 2016;1:15033.