Bart Eijkelkamp

Dr Bart Eijkelkamp

Research Fellow

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Dr Bart Eijkelkamp completed his Master's degree in Biomolecular Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in 2007. In the following year he commenced his PhD at Flinders University, investigating the antimicrobial resistance and virulence features of Acinetobacter baumannii, a highly significant human bacterial pathogen. Upon completion of his PhD in 2012, Dr Eijkelkamp took up a position as a post-doctoral researcher in the Research Centre for Infectious Diseases at the University of Adelaide. Here, he continued his research into the resistance and virulence features of major bacterial pathogens, with a strong focus on the role of metal ions and host lipids on bacterial fitness. In 2018, Dr Eijkelkamp established his own research group at the University of Adelaide. The Eijkelkamp Laboratory examines how dietary supplementation of zinc or omega-3 fatty acids affect bacteria at the host-pathogen interface.

Our research examines how bacterial pathogens adapt to adverse conditions encountered at the host-pathogen interface, focusing on antimicrobial free fatty acids and metal ion stress. These factors strongly aid in immune-mediated clearance of bacterial pathogens, and their dietary deficiencies are directly linked to an increased risk of contracting bacterial infections.

We study the bacterial membrane biosynthesis and modification systems, and the membrane transporters that play key roles in dealing with fatty acid and metal ion stresses. Through dietary supplementation of fatty acids (DHA or AA) or metals (zinc), we examine the direct impact of these antimicrobial factors during infection. Our research also studies the effects of fatty acids and metal ions on antibiotic efficacy, as significant synergy has been observed, but is not well understood.

We study these aspects of fatty acid and metal ion homeostasis in two major respiratory pathogens; Streptococcus pneumoniae, representing the leading bacterial pathogen in terms of annual mortality, and Acinetobacter baumannii as the world’s most problematic multidrug-resistant hospital pathogen. 

 

 

Projects

The role of metal ion toxicity during infection.

Our laboratory has identified and characterised the major zinc and copper transport systems in A. baumannii. Our current work focusses on the impact of simultaneous fluxes of distinct metal ions during infection, and how this affects bacterial pathogenesis. This is of primary interest as ratios of distinct metals are to be maintained within defined thresholds due to the synergistic antimicrobial activity of particular metal ion combinations, such as zinc and copper. To study the impact of metal ion fluxes in the complex environment as seen during infection, we have successfully established a murine model of zinc deficiency and subsequent zinc supplementation. This model also holds clinical relevance due to the global significance of human zinc deficiency, which affects nearly 2 billion people.

This project is conducted in collaboration with Prof Ian Paulsen (Macquarie University), Dr Amy Cain (Macquarie University), Dr Karl Hassan (University of Newcastle) and A/Prof Christopher McDevitt (University of Melbourne).

 

The effects of antimicrobial fatty acids on bacterial physiology.

Host fatty acids hold dual roles during infection, modulating an immune response and directly killing invading bacteria. The primary antimicrobial host fatty acids are the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid and the omega-6 fatty acids arachidonic acid. The relative dietary intake of these fatty acids has shifted from 1:1, to a dramatic 20-fold relative increase in the consumption of omega-6 fatty acids. This has been associated with an increased risk of developing severe bacterial infections and omega-3 supplementation studies have shown a decrease in the incidence of respiratory infections. Our research has shown that the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid also exerts a greater antimicrobial activity upon major respiratory pathogens as compared to the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid. Our current research examines how these host fatty acids exert their antimicrobial activity upon S. pneumoniae and A. baumannii, and which molecular mechanisms are employed by these pathogens to overcome their toxicity.

This project is conducted in collaboration with Prof Anton Peleg (Monash University), Dr Jhih-Hang Jiang (Monash University), Prof Charles Rock (St Jude Children’s Hospital), Prof Ian Paulsen (Macquarie University) and Prof James Paton (University of Adelaide).

 

Funding Sources

  • NHMRC
  • Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation

 

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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2019 Group Leader University of Adelaide
    2018 Adjunct Research Fellow University of South Australia
    2018 UofA Beacon Research Fellow University of Adelaide
    2012 - 2017 Post-Doctoral Researcher University of Adelaide
    2011 - 2012 Research Assistant Flinders University
    2005 - 2005 Research Assistant National Institute for Public Health and the Environment
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2016 Fellowship University of Adelaide Beacon Research Fellowship University of Adelaide Australia
    2016 Award Adelaide Protein Group Early Career Researcher Award Adelaide Protein Group Australia
    2015 Award Daniel Walker Medal for ECR Research Excellence University of Adelaide Australia 1000
    2015 Award CASS foundation travel award CASS foundation Australia
    2015 Award UK Biochemical Society Travel Award UK Biochemical Society United Kingdom
    2015 Award Faculty of Sciences ECR International Conference Travel Award University of Adelaide Australia
    2009 Award ASM BD Student Award Australian Society for Microbiology Australia
  • Language Competencies

    Language Competency
    Dutch; Flemish Can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review
    English Can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2008 - 2012 Flinders University Australia PhD
    2005 - 2007 Vrije Universiteit The Netherlands Msc
    2000 - 2005 Saxion University of Applied Sciences Netherlands BSc
  • Research Interests

Grants and Fellowships:

National Health and Medical Research Council

CIA Project Grant -  A molecular balancing act: Understanding metal ion homeostasis in A. baumannii during infection (2019 - 2021) $642,521

 

University of Adelaide

Beacon Research Fellowship - Defining the role of zinc at the host-pathogen interface (2017)

 

Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation

CIA Grant - Optimal dietary metal ion uptake and its role in protection against childhood bacterial disease (2016) $35,000

 

Awards:

Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology - Adelaide Protein Group

Adelaide Protein Group Early Career Researcher Award (2016)

 

University of Adelaide – Faculty of Sciences

Daniel Walker Medal for ECR Research Excellence (2015)

 

UK Biochemical Society

UK Biochemical Society Travel Award (2015)

 

University of Adelaide – Faculty of Sciences

ECR International Conference Travel Award (2015)

 

CASS Foundation

CASS Foundation Travel Award (2015)

 

Australian Society for Microbiology

ASM BD Student Award Award (2009)

 

 

University of Adelaide
  • Lecturer Biomedical Sciences II (2018 present)

  • Supervisor PPRII Research Review (2017 present)

  • Supervisor Biology 1: Human Perspectives: Small Group Discovery Experiences (2014 present)

 

Flinders University
  • Demonstrator 3rd year Advanced microbiology (2008 – 2012)

  • Demonstrator 3rd year Gene to genome (2008 – 2012)

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  • Editorial Boards

    Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country
    2018 - ongoing Board Member Frontiers in Microbiology Frontiers Switzerland
  • Position: Research Fellow
  • Phone: 83134671
  • Email: bart.eijkelkamp@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 4362
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Molecular Life Sciences, floor 4
  • Room: 4 14
  • Org Unit: Molecular and Biomedical Science

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