Origins of antibiotic resistance
Van Leeuwenhoek Lecture on BioScience.
Ja-Willem Veening is full professor at the University of Lausanne (Department of Fundamental Microbiology) since 2016.
He studied biology at the University of Groningen with a focus on genetics, statistics and biotechnology. In 2007 he obtained his PhD in Groningen, from 2006 - 2009 he was a postdoc in New Castle (in the group of Jeff Errington), after this period he returned to Groningen where he started his own group, the Veening lab, within the Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute.
He is a member of De Jonge Akademie (KNAW)
The Veening lab (which moved to Lausanne) is interested in understanding fundamental procsses in the pneumococcus, the main cause of community acquired pneumonia and meningitis. Using a multidisciplinary approach, including single cell techniques, systems and synthetic biology, members address how pneumococci grow and divide and segregate their DNA prior to cell division. The Veening lab is also interested in the role of phenotypic variation for pneumococcal virulence and antibiotic resistance development.
The rapid spread of antibiotic resistance, combined with a near absence of new antibiotics, are leading to a public health threat. One of the leading bacterial causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide is Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus). Frighteningly, inappropriate antibiotic treatments can accelerate the occurrence of multidrug resistance by activation of a developmental process called bacterial competence.
In this van Leeuwenhoek Lecture on BioScience, I will discuss how antibiotics promote competence and how we can block horizontal gene transfer in pneumococci.
Molecular insights into the mechanisms driving bacterial evolution and resistance will advance the quest for novel treatment strategies.