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Craig MacLean

Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow

  • Associate Professor, Department of Zoology


Craig MacLean obtained his B.Sc. (2004) and Ph.D (2005) from McGill University before moving the UK to take up a postdoctoral position at Imperial College London. Craig has held a variety of positions at Oxford since 2007, and he currently holds a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship in the Department of Zoology


Research Interests:

Antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria poses a fundamental threat to human health, and some studies have estimated that antibiotic resistance infections will surpass cancer as a cause of human mortality by 2050. Research in the MacLean lab is aimed at understanding the forces that drive the spread and maintenance of antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria. To achieve this aim, we use an interdisciplinary approach that combines concepts and tools from evolutionary biology, genetics, and microbiology.


Key questions of interest include:

  1. How do cooperation and competition influence the spread of resistant strains?
  2. Why does resistance persist after antibiotic use is discontinued?
  3. Can we identify ‘genetic catalysts’ that allow some strains of bacteria evolve antibiotic resistance at a very high rate?
  4. Can we identify antibiotic treatment strategies that suppress bacteria without selecting for resistance?

Historically, work in my group has primarily relied on studying resistance using controlled in vitro experiments with model pathogens. However, we are increasing studying the drivers of resistance by working with bacteria isolated from infected patients and from environmental samples associated with pathogen transmission. We study resistance in both clinical and experimental settings using a combination of genomics and high-throughput phenotypic assays, and we are very interested in understanding the link between genotype and phenotype. We work on a range of pathogens (P.aeruginosa, S.aureus, E.coli), and our work is focused on general questions, rather than on understanding the biology of a specific pathogen.




Doctoral Training Centre Degrees