Dr Ruth Griffin
School/Department: Life Sciences, Pharmacy & Chemistry
Position: Lecturer In Biochemistry And Genetics
Ruth obtained her honours degree in Biological Sciences at Exeter University, specialising in Molecular Biology, then conducted her DPhil at Oxford University in Medical Molecular Microbiology funded by the MRC. Ruth's research focused on a vaccine antigen of the bacterium, Haemophilus influenzae, which causes childhood meningitis.
Following her DPhil, Ruth pursued postdoctoral positions at the National Institute for Medical Research (MRC) and at Imperial College researching new vaccines against a more threatening bacterial pathogen, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes TB. She set up collaborations with scientists at Institut Pasteur and at Colorado State University which led to her securing funding from the NIH.
Keen to return to research in 2013 after taking a career break from 2007, an opportunity presented for Ruth to re-establish her research career at Kingston University working part time. During this time Ruth set up her vaccine research on another bacterium that causes meningitis, the meningococcus, otherwise known as Neisseria meningitidis and has made significant progress in designing and developing a novel vaccine. She has re-established a collaboration with the NRC in Canada and set up a collaboration with the University of Surrey. Ruth was appointed a full-time Lecturer in Biochemistry and Genetics in September 2015. Earlier that year Ruth wrote a PhD proposal to the Brazilian foundation Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for her former undergraduate student, Ronni da Silva. After successfully obtaining this scholorship Ronni began his PhD at KU in November 2015. In addition Ruth supervises a Masters by Research student, Cansu Karyal who is funded by the Faculty.
Educational and Professional Qualifications
- 2016 - present
- 1996 - 2000 DPhil in Medical Molecular Microbiology at the University of Oxford
- 1993 - 1996 BSc Hons in Biological Sciences, specialising in Molecular Biology, at the University of Exeter
I am passionate about designing and developing novel vaccines and therapeutics against diseases caused by pathogenic bacteria. My research in this field began with my undergraduate research project sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline. Since then I have researched different vaccine antigens of a number of pathogens including Mycobacterium tuberculosis which causes TB and both Haemophilus influenza and Neisseria meningitis (the meningococcus) which cause septicaemia and meningitis. I am currently researching the latter.
Several vaccines are available against most of the invasive-disease causing serogroups of N. meningitis however the need remains to develop improved vaccines effective against serogroup B strains. A breakthrough by Pfizer led to the licencing of the first serogroup B vaccine in the US in October 2014. This vaccine is composed of meningococcal Factor H binding protein (FHbp). Despite encouraging results to date, its ability to protect against diverse strains is being investigated. To this end, I am improving the protective efficacy of FHbp by conjugating this protein to specific lipid adjuvants known to enhance the breadth of protection of protein antigens.
In addition to applied research, I am passionate about more fundamental research, specifically elucidating the molecular pathway for the synthesis of vaccine antigens and this feeds into my vaccine research. I have identified key genes in the biosynthetic pathway for lipopolysaccharide in H. influenzae, in p-hydroxybenzoic acid in M. tuberculosis and in the lipidation and transportation of FHbp of N. meningitidis. This has been achieved by targeted mutagenesis of candidate genes and by random transposon mutagenesis with subsequent screening of transposon libraries. My PhD student is characterising a transposon mutant strain with increased susceptibility to killing by antibiotics. The protein encoded by the mutated gene is a potential novel drug target against the meningococcus. This research is timely with the alarming rise in antibiotic resistance and resulting need for alternatives to antibiotics.
Corresponding author of manuscripts/chapters indicated by *
» da Silva RAG, Churchward CP, Karlyshev AV, Eleftheriadou O, Snabaitis AK, Longman MR, Ryan A, Griffin R*. (2016) The role of apolipoprotein N-acyl transferase (Lnt) in the lipidation of vaccine antigen, Factor H binding protein, of Neisseria meningitidis strain MC58 and its potential as a novel drug target. British Journal of Pharmacology DOI:10.1111/bph.13660. Impact factor 5.259
» Karlyshev AV, Snyder LA, McFadden J, Griffin R*. (2015) Insight into proteomic investigations of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C strain L91543 from analysis of its genome sequence. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 362(9). DOI:10.1093/femsle/fnv055. Impact factor 1.858
» Thole, J, Griffin R, Young DB. (2009) The Future of Tuberculosis Vaccinology in Lung Biology in Health and Disease, vol 237 of Tuberculosis Fourth Edition The Essentials. Edited by Raviglione MC @ Informa Healthcare USA Inc., New York. Print ISBN:978-1-4200-9021-5, eBook ISBN: 978-1-4200-9023-9.
» Rosas-Magallanes V, Stadthagen-Gomez G, Rauzier J, Barreiro LB, Tailleux L, Boudou F, Griffin R, Nigou J, Jackson M, Gicquel B, Neyrolles O. (2007) Signature-tagged transposon mutagenesis identifies novel Mycobacterium tuberculosis genes involved in the parasitism of human macrophages. Infect Immun. 75(1):504-7. DOI:10.1128/IAI.00058-06. Impact factor 3.603
» Stadthagen G, Jackson M, Charles P, Boudou F, Barilone N, Huerre M, Constant P, Liav A, Bottova I, Nigou J, Brando T, Puzo G, Daffé M, Benjamin P, Coade S, Buxton RS, Tascon RE, Rae A, Robertson BD, Lowrie DB, Young DB, Gicquel B, Griffin R*. (2006) Comparative investigation of the pathogenicity of three Mycobacterium tuberculosis mutants defective in the synthesis of p-hydroxybenzoic acid derivatives. Microbes Infect. 8(8):2245-53. DOI:10.1016/j.micinf.2006.04.008. Impact factor 2.291
» Griffin R*, Young DB. (2006) The Future of Tuberculosis Vaccinology in Lung Biology in Health and Disease vol 219 of Reichman and Hershfield's Tuberculosis. A Comprehensive, International Approach Third Edition. Edited by Raviglione MC @ Informa Healthcare USA Inc., New York. ISBN: 0849392713 9780849392719
» Stadthagen G, Korduláková J, Griffin R, Constant P, Bottová I, Barilone N, Gicquel B, Daffé M, Jackson M. (2005) p-Hydroxybenzoic acid synthesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. J Biol Chem. 9;280(49):40699-706 DOI:10.1074/jbc.M508332200. Impact factor 4.573
» Griffin R*, Bayliss CD, Herbert MA, Cox AD, Makepeace K, Richards JC, Hood DW, Moxon ER. (2005) Digalactoside expression in the lipopolysaccharide of Haemophilus influenzae and its role in intravascular survival. Infect Immun. 73(10):7022-6. DOI:10.1128/IAI.73.10.7022-7026.2005. Impact factor 3.603
» Griffin R*, Cox AD, Makepeace K, Richards JC, Moxon ER, Hood DW. (2005) Elucidation of the monoclonal antibody 5G8-reactive, virulence-associated lipopolysaccharide epitope of Haemophilus influenzae and its role in bacterial resistance to complement-mediated killing. Infect Immun. 73(4):2213-21. DOI:10.1128/IAI.73.4.2213-2221.2005. Impact factor 3.603
» Griffin R, Cox AD, Makepeace K, Richards JC, Moxon ER, Hood DW. (2003) The role of lex2 in lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis in Haemophilus influenzae strains RM7004 and RM153. Microbiology. 149 (Pt 11):3165-75. DOI:10.1099/mic.0.26387-0. Impact factor 3. 026
» Aubrey, R*, Tang, C. (2003) The Pathogenesis of Disease Due to Type b Haemophilus influenzae in Haemophilus influenzae Protocols vol 71 of Methods in Molecular Medicine, pp 29-50. Edited by Herbert M @ Humana Press Inc., Totowa, N. J. DOI: 10.1385/1-59259-321-6:29
(Published under maiden name)
Undergraduate teaching includes level 5 in Biochemistry and level 6 in Bioinformatics, Bacterial genetics and in supervising project students. Postgraduate teaching includes level 7 Haematological Malignancy (molecular diagnostic testing) and supervising taught masters research projects. Co-supervisor for a masters-by-research student and Director of Studies for a PhD student in Molecular Microbiology after having obtained external funding from the Brazilian government.
Other Professional Activity
Society for Applied Microbiology
Society for General Microbiology
The British Journal of Pharmacology