Justin Abi Assaf

Project Scientist

Contact via email

Investigating the evolution of antimicrobial resistance

I have always had great fascination and admiration for science, mainly life sciences, ever since I was a child. I remember getting really excited for my biology classes at school as it fed my curiosity towards knowing more about the scientific study of life. It still amazes me to this day how the human body functions so intricately and meticulously to maintain homeostasis and to protect itself from various pathogens and even environmental stresses. Therefore, I used my love and passion for science as my guide in life to advance both academically and professionally.

After graduating high school, I obtained my BSc in Medical Laboratory Technology from Notre Dame University-Louaize, Lebanon. This degree provided me with comprehensive theoretical knowledge of clinical laboratory sciences and practical experience to competently operate myself in a lab setting. I then worked in a hospital setting as a biomedical scientist specialising in the microbiology/parasitology department for around 4 years. My main roles involved processing clinical samples to identify the clinically relevant pathogens whilst also running antimicrobial susceptibility testing assays to correlate back to the treated physicians. Concurrently, I was also doing my postgraduate studies from the University of Balamand, Lebanon in Laboratory Management where it culminated by me presenting my final project around establishing a prospective pathology lab using the Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) tool. My love for research with emphasis on microbiology, health, nutrition and drug discovery drove me to obtain my second postgraduate degree from the University of East Anglia-Norwich, UK in Natural Product Drug Discovery where I explored the novel interest in plant-based food derived peptides as anti-inflammatory agents as potential sources of pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals in my dissertation.

Currently as a research assistant in the “Microbes in the Food Chain” ISP at the Quadram Institute, I explore using the bead model of biofilm evolution how foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella try to adapt and to evolve against stresses induced by food additives. In addition to the bead model, my work on biofilms involves culturing them on germinated plant sprouts as a replica of the bugs growing on actual fresh produce in real life.

My prospective academic plan will involve me embarking on my own PhD journey across the various departments in the Norwich Research Park via the EDESIA: Plants, Food and Health multidisciplinary PhD programme to explore the relationship of diet on health and disease pathogenesis amongst other research topics in the hopes of improving our understanding of utilizing food not only as sustenance but also as a tool to enhance our quality of life.