Polly Moreland

I completed my BSc in Cellular and Molecular Biology at Newcastle University in 2013, going on to complete a BBSRC-funded integrated MRes/PhD as part of the Doctoral Training Program.

My PhD research used an interdisciplinary approach to advance novel antibiotic drug discovery, under the supervision of Dr Jem Stach (School of Biology) and Dr Michael Hall (School of Chemistry). The research centred on elucidating the route by which unusual heterocycles are incorporated into antimicrobial compounds in non-ribosomal peptide synthase complexes. A better understanding of the enzymology utilised by these systems allows their exploitation to yield novel heterocycle-containing molecules with potential clinical relevance.

For my first post-doctoral research position I moved to the Environmental Engineering group within Civil Engineering at Newcastle University. With a broadly similar focus as my PhD research, the research explored the enzymatic mechanisms responsible for estrogen degradation, aiming to develop an approach for lowering estrogen levels in water systems. Enzyme candidates were chosen by either homology or similar activity to theorised reaction pathways, from known estrogen degrading bacteria. Recombinant enzymes were purified and tested for activity against steroidal compounds, and the reaction products confirmed using MS. This was a year-long position, and the research is still on-going.

Currently, I am part of the Interdisciplinary Computing and Complex Biosystems team at Newcastle University working on the ThinkingSoils project. The overarching aim of the project is to engineer bacteria to respond to pressure in some meaningful way, such as producing a compound which could strengthen the soil surrounding them. My aim is to establish a promoter system which responds exclusively to pressure in Bacillus subtilis, using transcriptomics and synthetic promoter production.