Faculty of Biological Sciences

Dr Alex O'Neill

BSc, Bristol; PhD 2001, Leeds
Associate Professor
School of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Contact:  Garstang 8.52c, +44(0) 113 34 35600, email address for  

You can read more about Dr O'Neill's interests here:

Research Interests

Dissecting the molecular mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, and discovery of new antibacterial drugs

Antibiotics enable the treatment and cure of life-threatening bacterial infections, and represent one of the great successes of modern medicine. Unfortunately, the utility of these agents is being progressively eroded as bacteria evolve to resist their effects.

My laboratory seeks to better understand and address this problem through a combination of fundamental and applied research. Whilst our core expertise is molecular microbiology, we favour a multi-disciplinary approach that involves working closely with medicinal chemists, structural biologists and clinical scientists.

Research in the laboratory is funded by the Research Councils (MRC, BBSRC), the EU Framework 7 Programme, and industry (Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Helperby Therapeutics, Smith & Nephew, Syntopix).


The prototype self-transmissible antimicrobial
resistance plasmid from Staphyloccus aureus

Current main areas of focus are;

(i) The molecular mechanisms of resistance to antibiotics, particularly in the ‘superbug’, Staphylococcus aureus

  • Investigating the genetic basis for the emergence and maintenance of resistance and tolerance to antibiotics
  • Characterization of genetic elements involved in spreading antibiotic resistance
  • Understanding the biochemical and structural basis for antibiotic resistance

Cells of Staphylococcus aureus bursting
following exposure to antibiotics(ii) Identification and biological characterization of antibacterial agents

  • Discovery and design of novel antibacterial agents (in collaboration with colleagues in the School of Chemistry)
  • Biological characterization of both novel and established antibacterial agents
  • Development of novel tools and approaches to elucidate antibiotic mode of action



Current Projects

Post-doctoral appointments

Posts for which funding has already been secured (where available) will be advertised on www.jobs.ac.uk.

Those wishing to apply for a Fellowship to join the O’Neill lab are encouraged to get in touch to discuss possibilities. A non-exhaustive list of organizations that offer Fellowships in biological sciences is provided below;




Marie Skłodowska-Curie



Wellcome Trust


Faculty Research and Innovation

Studentship information

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • http://www.findaphd.com/search/ProjectDetails.aspx?PJID=24409&LID=735
  • http://www.findaphd.com/search/showproject.asp?projectid=11830

See also:

Modules managed

BIOL5296M - Treatment of Infectious Disease and Cancer
BIOL9001 - Study Year Abroad
BMSC2210 - Chemotherapy
MICR2220 - Medical Bacteriology

Modules taught

BIOC1301 - Introductory Integrated Biochemistry: the Molecules and Processes of Life
BIOC2301 - Intermediate Integrated Biochemistry
BIOC2303 - Intermediate Biochemistry: Skills
BIOC3160 - Laboratory/Literature/Computing Research Project
BIOL2110 - The Power of Bacterial Genomics
BIOL2301 - Intermediate Skills for Biological Sciences
BIOL2301/03/05/MICR2320 - Skills for Biol Sci, Biosciences and Microbiology
BIOL3398 - Research Tools and Applications
BIOL3399 - Extended Research Project Preparation
BIOL5294M - MSc Bioscience Research Project Proposal
BIOL5296M - Treatment of Infectious Disease and Cancer
BIOL5373M - Protein Engineering Laboratory Project
BIOL5392M - Bioscience MSc Research Project
BMSC2210 - Chemotherapy
MICR1120 - Introduction to Microbiology
MICR1320 - Skills for Microbiologists
MICR2220 - Medical Bacteriology
MICR2320/MICR3343 - Skills for Microbiology i
MICR3120 a - ATU - Respiratory infections
MICR3120/BIOL3112/BMSC3143/46 - ATU - Antibiotics action and resistance
MICR3325 - Skills for Microbiologists 3
MICR3343 - Skills for Microbiology in Relation to Medicine

Centre memberships:

Group Leader Dr Alex O'Neill  (Associate Professor)

Dissecting the molecular mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, and discovery of new antibacterial drugs 

Dr Louise Kime  (Research Fellow)

Dr Christopher Randall  (Research Fellow)

Mr Liam Sharkey  (Research Fellow)

Dr Jennifer Tomlinson  (Research Fellow)

Mr John Wright  (Technician)


Asma Akter (Primary supervisor) 70% FTE
Zeyad Alzeyadi (Primary supervisor) 90% FTE
Elham Elkrewi (Primary supervisor) 90% FTE
Luiza Galarion (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Ryan Gonciarz (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Arya Gupta (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Nicole Jackson (Primary supervisor) 60% FTE
Victoria Lee (Primary supervisor) 90% FTE
Anna Lippell (Primary supervisor) 90% FTE
Jennifer Mitchell (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Merianne Mohamad (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Nada Nass (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Fatma Salama (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Fayez Alsulaimani (Co-supervisor) 10% FTE
Lia De Faveri (Co-supervisor) 20% FTE
Virginia Pappa (Co-supervisor) 50% FTE