At the Quadram Institute we collaborate with researchers in North and South America on topics ranging from antimicrobial resistance to nutrition.

Our researchers have shared their science and expertise with researchers across the Americas, including enabling existing collaborations and starting new partnerships, supported by International Partnership funding from BBSRC.

International Partnership Activities

Boosting bacteriophage research through Canadian collaboration

Dr Evelien Adriaenssens is working with researchers in Canada to analyse what bacteriophages are found in food. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria. These viruses could be useful for killing nasty bugs likes Listeria and Salmonella that can make us sick.

Seeing bacterial biofilms in space and time

Prof Cynthia Whitchurch is developing a partnership with CalTech University in the United States to apply American cutting-edge bioimaging to understand microbial communities called biofilms.

Microbial bioinformatics knowledge exchange in America

Researchers working on microbial bioinformatics at the Quadram Institute have met with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the USA, to share bioinformatic tools used to analyse the DNA inside microbes and how they can be used in both countries to detect foodborne microbes.

Breast cancer and gut microbiome collaboration

Dr Sally Dreger and Dr Stephen Robinson are collaborating with the University of Virginia Medical School in the USA to work to understand more about how the gut microbiome affects breast cancer metastatic disease.

Protective microbiome partnership

Researchers in Prof Rob Kingsley’s group have been developing a collaboration with groups at the University of California Davis and the University of California San Diego who have expertise on studying how  certain gut microbiomes can protect against disease-causing microbes.

Gut-brain axis cooperation

Prof Nathalie Juge’s group is working with the University of British Columbia in Canada to learn more about the connections between the gut and brain. The collaboration is focused on the use of experimental models to establish causality of connections between the two organs.

Bringing biofortification research in the UK and US together

Scientists from several groups and our Business Development team have established connections and collaborations with global nutrition experts in the US. The collaboration is focused mainly on how to tackle the global issue of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Related News

A Petri dish filled with reddish agar on which streaks of greenish E coli bacteria are growing
12th December 2022
Tracking the global spread of antimicrobial resistance
An international research team has provided valuable new information about what drives the global spread of genes responsible for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacteria. The collaborative study, led by researchers at the Quadram Institute and the University of East Anglia, brought together experts from France, Canada, Germany and the UK and will provide new information to combat the global challenge of AMR. [caption id="attachment_27431" align="alignright" width="300"] E. coli. Image by Raphaelle Palau, the Quadram Institute[/caption] By examining the whole genome sequences of around two thousand resistant bacteria, predominantly Escherichia coli collected between 2008 and 2016, the team found that different types of AMR genes varied in their temporal dynamics. For example, some were initially found in North America and spread to Europe, while for others the spread was from Europe to North America. Not only did the study look at bacteria from different geographic regions but also from diverse hosts including humans, animals, food (meat) and the environment (wastewater), to define how these separate but interconnected factors influenced the development and spread of AMR. Understanding this interconnectivity embodies the One Health approach and is vital for understanding transmission dynamics and the mechanisms by which resistance genes are transmitted. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, was supported by the Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR), a global collaboration spanning 29 countries and the European Commission that is tasked with turning the tide on AMR. Without concerted efforts on a global scale, AMR will undoubtedly make millions more people vulnerable to infections from bacteria and other microorganisms that can currently be tackled with antimicrobials. The team focussed on resistance to one particularly important group of antimicrobials, the Extended-Spectrum Cephalosporins (ESCs). These antimicrobials have been classed as critically important by the World Health Organization because they are a ‘last resort’ treatment for multidrug resistant bacteria; despite this, since their introduction, efficacy has declined as bacteria have developed resistance. Bacteria that are resistant to ESCs achieve this through the production of specific enzymes, called beta-lactamases, that are able to inactivate ESCs. The instructions for making these enzymes are encoded in genes, particularly two key types of genes: extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs), and AmpC beta-lactamases (AmpCs). These genes may be found on the chromosomes of bacteria where they are passed to progeny during clonal multiplication, or in plasmids, which are small DNA molecules separate to the bacterium’s main chromosome. Plasmids are mobile and can move directly between individual bacteria representing an alternative way of exchanging genetic material. This study identified how some resistance genes proliferated through clonal expansion of particularly successful bacterial subtypes while others were transferred directly on epidemic plasmids across different hosts and countries. Understanding the flow of genetic information within and between bacterial populations is key to understanding AMR transmission and the global spread of antimicrobial resistance. This knowledge will contribute to the design of vitally needed interventions that can halt AMR in the real world where bacteria from diverse hosts and environmental niches interact, and where international travel and trade mean that these interactions are not limited by geography. Professor Alison Mather, group leader at the Quadram Institute and the University of East Anglia, said: “By assembling such a large and diverse collection of genomes, we were able to identify the key genes conferring resistance to these critically important drugs. We were also able to show that the majority of resistance to extended spectrum cephalosporins is spread by only a limited number of predominant plasmids and bacterial lineages; understanding the mechanisms of transmission is key to the design of interventions to reduce the spread of AMR”. Lead author Dr Roxana Zamudio said “Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem, and it is only by working collaboratively with partners in multiple countries that we can get a holistic understanding of where and how AMR is spreading”. Read Roxana's Nature Community Blog about why international collaboration is crucial for tracking antimicrobial resistance   Reference: Dynamics of extended-spectrum cephalosporin resistance genes in Escherichia coli from Europe and North America. Roxana Zamudio, Patrick Boerlin, Racha Beyrouthy, Jean-Yves Madec, Stefan Schwarz, Michael R. Mulvey, George G. Zhanel, Ashley Cormier, Gabhan Chalmers, Richard Bonnet, Marisa Haenni, Inga Eichhorn, Heike Kaspar, Raquel Garcia-Fierro, James L. N. Wood, Alison E. Mather. Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-34970-7 This project was supported by the Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR), through the Medical Research Council (MRC, MR/R000948/1), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CFC-150770), and the Genomics Research and Development Initiative (Government of Canada), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) grant no. 01KI1709, the French Agency for food environmental and occupational health & safety (Anses), and the French National Reference Center (CNR) for antimicrobial resistance. Support was also provided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) through the BBSRC Institute Strategic Programme Microbes in the Food Chain BB/R012504/1 and its constituent project BBS/E/F/000PR10348 (Theme 1, Epidemiology and Evolution of Pathogens in the Food Chain)
6th May 2021
Quadram Institute scientists funded to build partnerships with Canadian researchers
Dr Matthew Gilmour and Dr Evelien Adriaenssens from the Quadram Institute in Norwich, UK, have each been granted prestigious partnership awards to collaborate with researchers in Canada. The UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funded awards will involve a variety of activities over the duration, including seminars, workshops, and exchange visits. The BBSRC Canada Partnering Awards are four-year awards to a maximum of £50,000 over the course of the project. The partnering awards encourage the long-term collaboration of scientists internationally, sharing skills and experiences across disciplines to strengthen the scientific approaches to the respective control of infectious diseases in the UK and partner countries. Dr Gilmour’s partnership will focus on the advancement of genomic tools to study the foodborne transmission of Listeria monocytogenes, the cause of the foodborne infection, listeriosis. Partnering with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory and Health Canada’s Food Directorate, the collaboration will enable the exchange of ideas and approaches towards Listeria and facilitate the development of bioinformatic tools to study key genetic elements of Listeria, which will help to contribute improved evidence during food safety interventions. This will include focusing on genetic traits responsible for antibiotic and biocide resistance, and the formation of biofilms, which play an important role in the pathogen’s ability to grow and survive in food processing facilities and ultimately cause human illness. Dr Gilmour’s research group works to understand the microbial traits that contribute to the significant risk posed by Listeria. Dr Gilmour said: “The people in this collaboration have already done much work to bring genomic technologies into the mainstream to investigate foodborne illnesses, including listeriosis. We have recognised that there are still many gaps in our understanding of how Listeria survives and then spills into the food chain. Between our coalition of Canadian and UK experts, we are very excited to work together to further advance our toolset and improve our investigation into the reasons for these continued illnesses.” “Early detection of Listeria in the food chain is crucial, as it helps reduce the frequency of food-borne illness outbreaks. Health Canada is proud to have our very own Dr Pagotto partner with Dr. Gilmour and the National Microbiology Laboratory to advance food safety research and improve outbreak response,  said Dr Martin Duplessis, Director of the Bureau of Microbial Hazards at Health Canada’s Food Directorate. Because the Bureau of Microbial Hazards works to minimize public health risks from the consumption of foods contaminated by bacterial, parasitic, viral, and prion-disease agents, this is a great opportunity to collaborate with national and international partners.” Dr Adriaenssens’ partnership is with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), a department of the Canadian government concerned with farm and agri-based products, to focus on a one health approach to understanding and using bacteriophages in the control of enteric pathogens and their effects on the gut microbiome. The award will facilitate the exchanging knowledge and expertise on the food chain application of bacteriophages, their genomic diversity, bioinformatics and the gut microbiome. Dr Adriaenssens’ and her research group at the Quadram Institute study the role of bacteriophages in gut health and disease. Dr Adriaenssens said: “I am very excited to start this collaboration with Dr Hany Anany at AAFC which will allow us to increase our knowledge on bacteriophages in that crucial interface between food applications and the human microbiome, supported by excellence in bioinformatics through our Co-Investigator Dr Andrea Telatin. We predict that bacteriophages will be important players in the future fight against antimicrobial resistance, both in the food chain and in human therapies.” Dr Hany Anany, research scientist at the Guelph Research and Development Centre, AAFC, said: “I am thrilled to be part of the Canada Partnering Award and work with Drs Adriaenssens and Telatin in this interesting research project. The outstanding experience of our UK partners in bacteriophage biology and viromics will definitely help us to have a better understanding of the enormous diversity of bacteriophages throughout the food supply chain and their host interaction. This will lead to the development of novel phage-based approaches to control and detect foodborne bacterial pathogens to enhance food safety."  
Three people smiling standing outside a building with a sign labelled "Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center"
9th June 2023
Bringing UK and US biofortification bioscience together
Recently a group of our nutritionists, scientists and technology transfer staff from the Quadram Institute visited the United States to share knowledge and build collaborations with global nutrition experts. Here our Research Scientist Dr Liangzi Zhang explains more. “International collaboration is important to improve health through nutrition. In March 2023, I joined Dr Maria Traka, deputy Head of our Food & Nutrition National Bioscience Research Infrastructure (F&N NBRI) together with Professor Martin Warren’s group in a visit to the US to attend the 2023 “UC Davis/Quadram Collaboration on Biofortification, B12, and More: from Nutrition to Food Biotechnology". Biofortification describes the process of improving the nutrition of plant-based foods. The two-day conference focused on biofortification was held at University of California, Davis campus and brought us together with researchers, clinicians and nutritionists from UC Davis as well as a small number of companies and investors together with and the Innovation Institute for Food & Health at the University of California. Public and planetary health The first day of the conference focused on health, nutrition and biofortification. We learnt about the concept of Personalised Public Health from Professor Sean Adams, Vice Chair for Basic Research at UC Davis. This concept is tailoring public health interventions to the individual characteristics and needs of a person, including their unique genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. Professor Adams explained this concept by focussing on the variation in human physiological responses to food. Then Dr Maria Traka and I gave a talk on how we provide and update data and knowledge on food composition and intake in the UK, to deliver nutritional policy and high-quality science through the F&N NBRI based here at the Quadram Institute. Vitamin B12 In our talk, Maria and I explored the balance between human and planetary health, using the example of our research into vitamin B12 in milk. Vitamin B12 is an essential micronutrient important for our health. It’s a topic that researchers in Professor Martin Warren’s group study too. At the F&N-NBRI and together with the Warren group we have conducted research projects on the nutritional quality of plant-based food products and British cow milk. Milk is currently the main source of vitamin B12 for the UK population. We found that the levels of vitamin B12 in cow milk are lower than 20 years ago and the population intake of B12 is even more concerning as more people switch to plant-based, which can lack vitamin B12. This conference provided an ideal platform to share our findings with the vitamin B12 community and forge connections with food science experts, technology transfer experts, interested companies and investors. The day also included presentations on vitamin B12 and neurological complications by experts from the University of California, San Francisco, and vitamin B12 as a health barometer and microbial modulator from UC Berkeley. We ended the first day with a collective discussion about the need for vitamin B12 fortification and current ways we can increase vitamin B12 in foods through biofortification. [caption id="attachment_28966" align="alignright" width="300"] Researchers from the Warren Group, F&N NBRI and Business Development team at the Biofortification Collaboration meeting[/caption] Innovation and Technology On the second day, the discussions centered around the potential of new technology and data science in understanding food, nutrition, and the environment. Dr Danielle LeMay from USDA ARS Western Health and Nutrition Research Center explored the significant advancements that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can bring to the field of food and nutrition research. She highlighted how AI can facilitate precise and data-driven approaches in understanding the intricate relationships between diet, health, and diseases. We learnt about a new initiative called “the Periodic Table of Food”. The initiative aims to create a worldwide system that offers tools, data, and training to catalogue the biomolecular composition of the global food supply. Dr Mariana Barboza and Professor Bruce German from UC Davis explained how such a comprehensive database could transform the agriculture, food, and health industries. Insight from industry The conference was not only a platform for research presentations but also an opportunity for industry partners like Meati and TurtleTree to share their visions on commercialising new plant-based products developed from precision fermentation technology. Following the conference, we took part in honey tasting event organized by Amina Harris, Ph.D., Director of Honey and Pollination Center. This event provided a unique sensory experience, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in the aroma, flavor, texture, and color of three beautiful local honeys. The conference was a resounding success, featuring a range of discussion not only on the topic of biofortification and vitamin B12, but also broader conversations surrounding technology, food systems, and the health of both people and the planet. Forging future collaborations For us in the UK’s Food and Nutritional National Bioscience Research Infrastructure (F&N NBRI) team, the conference allowed us to establish ties with the FoodData Central (FDC), the USDA's online integrated food and nutrient data system. We visited the FDC in person, in Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Maryland where we had two days of discussions and saw their Human Studies Facility too. Together, we discussed the research and methodology development of analysing components within food, including plant bioactives. During our visit we were struck by the differences in research focus between FDC in the US and F&N-NBRI here in the UK. The FDC places a greater emphasis on fundamental research, given their abundant resources and expertise. In contrast, our team at F&N-NBRI is more focused on adapting our data for practical use and exploring its interdisciplinary applications beyond nutritional information. With these divergent approaches, we found the opportunity to share ideas and learn from each other extremely valuable. We were able to identify common interests and explore potential areas for collaboration that could benefit both our organisations.”
A young woman wearing a lab coat and cloves standing next to a laboratory bench.
28th April 2023
Anny Camargo's Colombian research on Clostridium perfringens
“Clostridium perfringens is a bacterium that can be found in the intestinal tract of humans and animals, in soil and in poorly prepared food. This bacterium can cause food poisoning, intestinal necrosis and tissue disease in humans and animals. We are interested in this bacterium because it can affect the most vulnerable people. I am from a rural community in the Boyacá region of Colombia, in South America. When I was a child, I always dreamed of becoming a doctor. The possibility of becoming a doctor seemed slim because my family did not have the money to pay for training. But my dream came true when I received a scholarship from the Universidad de Boyacá for being an outstanding student. With this scholarship, I studied medicine for six years. Then I spent a year as a doctor working in rural areas, which is part of medical training in Colombia. In Colombia there are some places, especially in rural areas of Boyacá, where there is a lot of poverty. There is a lack of access to drinking water, refrigerators and sanitation measures. These places have higher rates of transmission of microbes such as C. perfringens and it is the elderly and children who are most at risk of getting sick. This is why I want to learn more about the biology of this bacterium, how to prevent it and share the knowledge with my community. One day, while working as a doctor in these rural areas, the Universidad de Boyacá contacted me to offer me an opportunity to do a PhD at the Centro de Investigaciones en Microbiología y Biotecnología de la Universidad del Rosario (CIMBIUR) under the direction of Dr. Marina Muñoz Diaz and Dr. Juan David Ramírez. I accepted and it was then that I started my research on C. perfringens. A One Health approach to studying Clostridium perfringens I am the principal investigator of a project that focuses on the identification and characterisation of circulating C. perfringens in humans, animals and food in the Colombian Cundiboyacense Altiplano area. I believe that the whole ecosystem is important in the transmission of infectious diseases. If you study humans, animals, and the environment together, you can learn more about how to prevent disease. My parents are teachers in rural schools. They teach about life and nature. They taught me that all life is connected and that the best way to help is to educate. I think my project is inspired by that and uses a unique approach to health. My father also loves my research and has helped me collect samples with his students, who will also be great scientists one day. When we visit rural communities there is a lot of poverty, animals drink water from the same places as humans, people cannot refrigerate their food, floors are dirty, and there are other conditions that can help the bacteria spread. Together with other researchers from my university in Colombia, we take microscopes, leaflets and videos to farms to teach about bacteria. During these visits we take samples of human and animal faeces and food to learn more about how bacteria spread between organisms. We have collected around 700 samples from healthy humans, patients with gastrointestinal symptoms, animals and food in various municipalities in Boyacá. Building bioscience skills When I started my PhD, I read a lot of papers on C. perfringens and came across research from Professor Lindsay Hall's group based at the Quadram Institute. They study bacteria in babies and I found that fascinating. I told my supervisor Marina that my dream was to visit the Quadram Institute. The possibility seemed very low because we did not know anyone and coming to England from Colombia is very expensive. But through a shared contact from Marina, my research was mentioned to Lindsay Hall and they talked about the possibility of me coming to the Quadram Institute. Lindsay is wonderful and she accepted my academic visit and thanks to the support of the University of Boyacá, my group CIMBIUR, the Universidad del Rosario and the Ministry of Sciences of Colombia - Minciencias; I got a scholarship to come here to the Quadram Institute to the Lindsay Hall group. I am working with Dr. Raymond Kiu in the Hall group to learn bioinformatics skills on how to analyse C. perfringens genomic data. They have taught me many tools to analyse DNA sequences. In the lab I am also learning about the colon model. I love the colon model! I joined the Quadram Institute in January. The cold weather was a shock, but it was fascinating to see a snowy day in Norwich! I think the Quadram Institute is a great institute, the research here is excellent, the building is wonderful, and the people are friendly. Communicating with communities in Colombia Thanks to funding from Minciencias and partner universities, we visit farms, hospitals and rural schools in Boyacá and teach children and adults to wash their hands and handle food. We take the children to visit the laboratories of the University of Boyacá and use microscopes to see the bacteria. We have made videos about our research and also share them through social media. Together with the children, we have made radio programmes to further spread the message. Radio is an important way to communicate our research because it is one of the main ways that people in rural communities in Colombia obtain information. When I return to Colombia, I will visit hospitals and visit universities to share the results of this research. In the future, after my PhD I would like to continue this and other research in my country. I am interested in the intestinal microbiota and those associated with bacterial infections. When I finish my doctorate, I will also continue teaching at the University of Boyacá on topics such as infectious diseases and medicine. I am interested in the intestinal microbiota and those associated with bacterial infections. I want to continue to seek funding to reach out to communities and teach underprivileged children and youth that they too can become great scientists. We are the size of our dreams. I love my research because through science I can help people and I have the opportunity to study, travel, get to know different cultures and grow not only as a scientist but as a person. I have not done this alone, all thanks to the support from my family, my teachers and my colleagues who have taught me that the sky is the limit. I think this quote from Isaac Newton sums up our research: "If I have been able to see beyond, it has been because I have stood on the shoulders of giants”."

Other Locations

African landscape
Africa
How we work with researchers in Africa to address global health challenges
A range of pulses in jars and dishes
Asia
Our collaborations in Asia on food science and gut microbiome research
Map of Europe
Europe
Our links with researchers, institutes and industry across Europe
A drone shot landscape
Oceania
Research collaborations in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji