Research Topic: Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs)
About Dr Katie Laird
Dr Katie Laird teaches both on the MPharm and Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science BSc courses at DMU. Her interest in science began from a young age and during her GCSEs she chose to pursue a career in forensic science. She pursued this research for the purpose of educating the public in the areas of health, antibiotic resistance and microbiology. She is enthusiastic about her research and excited about the contribution she can make to the wider community.
Dr Katie Laird’s PhD involved developing and patenting a vapour called Citri-V™©. The vapour is anti-microbial meaning it can inhibit or destroy the growth of micro-organisms. It was established from a combination of antimicrobial citrus essential oils that destroy bacteria and fungi in the air and on surfaces, for use in the food and clinical arenas. The project is currently being studied further to assesses the vapour mechanisms. She is also collaborating with the industry to try and commercialise the product. Although her original research was based on food microbiology, her research area has developed over time and she is now focused on the clinical aspects of microbiology and looking at natural ways of combating antibiotic resistance. This also includes the education of the public in the areas of health, microbiology and antibiotic resistance.
Dr Laird is at present managing and carrying out a number research projects relating to Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs). The bulk of her research is attempting to find natural alternatives to chemical based antimicrobials. For example, disinfectants and antibiotics and looking at how natural products can be used to combat infectious diseases
Katie is conducting research together with Dr. Peter Rivers to address the misconception that the body becomes resistant to the antibiotics when in fact it is the bacteria. Through Square Mile these misconceptions can be reduced, by bringing this issue to the awareness of the greater public.
Katie also focuses on the transmission of HAIs through healthcare textiles such as nurse’s uniforms and bed sheets, in particular Clostridium difficile. Jo, a PhD student of Katie’s, found that hospital sheets contaminated with C. difficile spores, despite being washed to NHS regulations. Research is being performed to determine the most effective laundering parameters required to removing harmful bacteria from hospital textiles. An exploration in developing uniforms is also being undertaken, to prevent bacteria adhering to them as well as determining how C. difficile survives the laundering process. This has instigated a project that has recently begun to attempt to cover textiles with a plant based antimicrobial within a natural microcapsule that that will eventually prevent cross contamination of textiles in hospitals. This research can assist in making the community more aware that if they work in a healthcare environment, the importance of washing textiles at the correct temperature, e.g. not washing under 60°C without detergent or with other clothing.
Next step for Dr Laird’s research
Dr Laird has collaborated with Dr. Sarah Younie and written a children’s book called ‘A Germ’s Journey’ which is aimed at teaching pre-school children about germs and the journey the germs take into the body and how they cause illness. The book also has an interactive component that will help to further engage the children in what they are learning and help them become more aware of how germs can affect them and others around them.
Her dissertation supervisor throughout her degree inspired and encouraged her to continue in academia and complete a PhD.
Dr Laird enjoys swimming, running and walking her lovely dog.
Katie and her family are currently renovating a 300 year old cottage which takes up a lot of her spare time!