Gastrointestinal microbial pathogenesis
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder globally. There is increasing evidence from clinical and population studies for a role of H. pylori infection in the aetiology of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia. However, suitable animal models of gastric Helicobacter infection are needed to investigate the molecular basis of causal links to iron deficiency in the host. Ongoing projects involve the use of the C56BL/6 mouse model of H. felis and H. pylori infection as well as the development of a novel infection model in zebrafish to study the molecular pathways of host iron metabolism in greater depth.
Legend: Heliobacter felis colonisation of murine gastric glandular region at 8 weeks post-inoculation
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Dr Thomson completed her undergraduate degree in 1998 in microbiology and immunology at the University of Melbourne, Australia. She then immigrated to the UK where she worked on various projects as diverse as peanut allergy and bladder cancer before undertaking further studies. She completed her Masters of Research in functional genomics in 2004 before reading for a PhD in microbial genetic regulation in Neisseria species, both at the University of York, UK. After the award of her PhD in 2009, Dr Thomson became interested in the extra-gastric consequences of the host-pathogen interactions between gastric Helicobacter species and their human host. Working as a post Doctoral fellow in the laboratories of Professor Jean Crabtree in Leeds, UK, as part of the international CONTENT consortium (Supported by an EU framework 6 grant) enabled her to develop this interest using rodent models. Parallel studies in cohorts of affected children were modelled in mice and gerbils to look specifically for the molecular pathways of host iron metabolism modulated by gastric Helicobacter infections. Having returned to Australia in May 2011, she plans to continue this molecular work in parallel to studies of this healthcare burden in indigenous Australians.
Dr Melanie Thomson's Publications