Ben Libberton

I’m Ben and I’m a Post Doc working with Agneta Richter-Dahlfors at The Karolinska Institute.

I’m a microbiologist by training. I did my degree in Microbiology at the University of Leeds between 2004 and 2007. This was an excellent degree and I had the great opportunity to be trained by some of the best academics in the field.

Since then I have focused on applying my skills as a microbiologist to different areas. For my Ph.D I worked with Mike Brockhurst, a prolific Evolutionary Ecologist and Mal Horsburgh, an expert in staphylococcal physiology and genetics. I was interested in understanding why certain people carry Staphylococcus aureus in their nose. This is a serious problem, especially in hospitals where antibiotic-resistant strains such as MRSA cause life-threatening infections. I applied community ecology approaches to find out if other bacteria residing in the nose with S. aureus could affect carriage. The aim was to find bacterial species that could ultimately be used as a “probiotic” for the nose that could kill S. aureus before it can cause harm.

After my Ph.D I changed fields altogether to address a different problem. Working with Dan Nicolau and Harm van Zalinge, I studied how motile microorganisms navigate microfluidic networks. There are countless ways in which microbiology and microfluidics can be combined to study the world around us. However I was primarily interested in how motile bacteria can be used as agents to solve complex bio-computational problems. I was also interested in how confinement of microorganisms in microfluidic networks that more closely resemble their natural environment, can help us understand more about the way they move.

After my Posdoc in engineering I continued on an interdisciplinary path working as a biologist in the department of chemistry. I used molecular biology and biochemistry to study the effect of a synthetic and potentially mutagenic DNA adduct. By using bacteria as simple models, I was able to understand how a live cell treats this DNA lesion with a view to developing therapies and/or detection systems.

I currently work on infection at the Karolinska Institute. I'm studying the process by which microorganisms colonise medical implants and trying to develop new methods to detect and remove infection. My aim is to apply my background in microbial ecology/device fabrication and blend this with the Tissue Microbiology and Organic Bioelectronics