Erin Brazel

Erin Brazel

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Erin's research is focused on developing novel prevention and treatment strategies against bacterial pathogens.

Erin has a background in molecular and translational microbiology, with a focus on developing new ways of preventing and treating bacterial diseases. With antibiotic resistant superbugs projected to kill 10 million people each year by 2050, new ways of combatting disease are urgently required. A key focus for Erin's early research was the study of the impact of zinc, both nutritional and as a therapeutic, against bacterial pathogens. This work has provided fundamental insight into the metabolic and transcriptomic impacts of zinc on bacteria and identified a novel drug repurposing strategy that could be used to restore the susceptibility of bacteria to antibiotics. These findings have the potential to extend the shelf life of commonly used antibiotics.

 

Researchers discover a new approach to breaking bacterial antibiotic resistance and rescue frontline drug treatments

 

Erin continues her research on Streptococcus pneumoniae in her current role as post-doctoral researcher in the Research Centre for Infectious Diseases. By combining her microbiology and biochemistry expertise, Erin investigates pneumococcal virulence and metabolism, with a particular interest in the function of bacterial membrane proteins and enzymes. Her research aims to define the mechanisms underlying bacterial behaviour in the host environment and the adaptation of pneumococci to specific host sites. In 2021, Erin was awarded a Channel 7 Children's Research Foundation grant to explore how these bacteria signal to and communicate with neighbouring bacteria and the host. Together, this research aims to contribute to the understanding of pneumococal biology and ultimately exploit these pathways as new treatment strategies.

 

Expanding the toolkit for the treatment of ear infections

 

Erin also has an interest in the development of new vaccines to address emerging and existing pathogens that threaten global health and biosecurity. Since 2019 Erin has worked closely with the R&D team at GPN vaccines Ltd in the development of a whole cell pneumococcal vaccine. This serotype-independent vaccine aims to address the major shortcomings of the currently used vaccines, including the serotype selection and high cost of manufacture. Erin brings her knowledge of fundamental S. pneumoniae biology to the team and has contributed to the design and preclinical testing of next generation vaccine candidates, including the current lead candidate (Gamma-PN3), which is capable of providing improved immunogenicity and has favourable properties for large-scale manufacture. This vaccine will be tested in a first-in-human Phase 1 clinical trial in January 2023.

 

The Advertiser article on new vaccine

 

 

Erin is passionate about translating research findings from the laboratory bench into commercial products that can have a positive impact on patients and public health. In 2022, Erin was awarded the QUT Bridge Pitch Competition ($10,000) for her medical innovation presentation and a Bridge Industry Fellowship ($10,000). In this fellowship, Erin is gaining experience working with GPN Vaccines on business strategy and IP development for new vaccines.

 

Global fellowship, Applause 22

 

  • REDI Bridge Industry Fellowship (2022), $10,000
  • School of Biological Sciences EMCR Association Small Grant Scheme (2022). "Structural studies of the Streptococcus pneumoniae sugar uptake protein FruA" - $1,000
  • QUT/MTPConnect Bridge Program Pitch Competition (2022) $10,000
  • School of Biological Sciences EMCR Association Small Grant Scheme (2021). "A metabolite screening approach to uncover new Streptococcus pneumoniae treatments" - $1,000
  • Channel 7 Children's Research Foundation Grant (2021), "Expanding the toolkit for the treatment of ear infections" - $40,000

 

 

Academic Mentor, Principles and Practices of Research (Advanced) II (SCIENCE 2300), 2022-

Supervisor, Principles and Practices of Research (Advanced) III (SCIENCE 3100), 2022-

Lecturer, Infection and Immunity IIIA (MICRO 3000, MICRO 3007, MICRO 3102), 2022-
- Nutrients at the host-pathogen interface (2 lectures)
- Bacterial vaccines (1 lecture)

Practical Demonstrator, Infection and Immunity IIIA (MICRO 3000), 2016-2018

  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2023 Principal Supervisor Investigating the drivers of pneumococcal pathogenesis Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Kate Patricia Whyte
    2023 Principal Supervisor Development and preclinical evaluation of a freeze-dried pneumococcal vaccine formulation Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Ms Rachel Chin
    2022 Co-Supervisor Investigating Streptococcus pneumoniae pathogenicity Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Hannah Naomi Agnew
    2021 Co-Supervisor Influenza A Virus Vaccine Development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Chloe Gates
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2022 - ongoing Secretary Australian Society for Microbiology SA/NT Branch Australian Society for Microbiology Australia
    2019 - ongoing Chair Adelaide Protein Group Australian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Australia
    2019 - ongoing Representative Professional Development Standing Committee Australian Society for Microbiology Australia
    2019 - 2019 Representative Faculty of Sciences Gender Equity and Diversity The University of Adelaide Australia
    2019 - 2019 Secretary Adelaide Protein Group Australian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Australia
    2018 - ongoing Representative Australian Society for Microbiology SA/NT Branch Australian Society for Microbiology Australia
    2018 - 2019 Representative Institutional Biosafety Committee The University of Adelaide Australia
    2017 - 2018 Member Adelaide University Biosciences Network The University of Adelaide Australia
    2016 - ongoing Representative Adelaide Protein Group - Australia

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