Joan Geoghegan

Assistant Professor
Department of Microbiology, School of Genetics and Microbiology
Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

PhD (Microbiology), Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Microbiology, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Dr Joan Geoghegan’s research focuses on Staphylococcus aureus, an important pathogen of humans.  During her PhD and postdoctoral training at Trinity College Dublin, Joan developed expertise in using biochemical and biophysical approaches to dissect the molecular basis of interactions between staphylococcal proteins and host molecules. Her current research involves characterizing the factors that contribute to the success of S. aureus by studying proteins involved in promoting attachment to host cells and surfaces, biofilm formation and bacterial survival in neutrophils and macrophages.

Her group is investigating the molecular basis of protein-mediated biofilm formation in MRSA. They have found that it is possible to prevent staphylococci from establishing biofilms by targeting the protein linkages that hold the bacteria together and the interactions that facilitate adherence to surfaces. These findings offer new opportunities for the development of compounds to prevent biofilm formation by staphylococci

A major research interest in the Geoghegan lab is in understanding how copper tolerance genes contribute to the ability of MRSA to colonize and persist during human infection. Joan Geohegan and her team is investigating how copper tolerance genes carried on mobile genetic elements and allow MRSA to resist the antibacterial effects of copper also help the bacteria to withstand killing by human immune cells. This is related to the group’s interest in antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria and the link between metal and antibiotic use in food-production animals and antibiotic resistance in human pathogens. The main aim of this work is to identify new targets for the treatment and prevention of S. aureus infection.

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