Hello there! My name is Duncan Ng. I’m from Kuching, Malaysia . Currently, I’m doing my postdoc at the Quadram Institute, Norwich, UK 🇬🇧. I did my PhD at the Staten Serum Institut and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark 🇩🇰 on the nasal microbiota.
A brief history
Before my PhD, I lived in Glasgow, Scotland 🏴 for 6 years. I was offered a position at the vet school at the University of Glasgow. However, after 2 years, I decided it wasn’t for me and applied for a switch to virology. There, I found my passion for infectious biology. My BSc project was titled “The biological activity of interferon lambda 4” in the McLauchlan group at the Centre of Virus Research at the University of Glasgow. After acquiring my BSc in Virology, I decided to take a MSc in Bioinformatics. My MSc project was titled “Visualising viral quasispecies using CIRCOS” supervised by Dr Richard Orton.
My PhD was based in the Microbial Pathogenicity and Host Susceptibility lead by Paal Skytt Andersen at the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen and a registered student at the University of Copenhagen. I am also part of an Innovative Training Network (ITN) funded by the European Research Council called CARTNET (Combatting Antibiotic Resistance Training Network). It consists of 13 early stage researchers (ESRs) around Europe focusing on different aspects of combatting antibiotic resistance ranging from drug design, antibiotic discovery to phage therapy. I belong to work package 2, which is titled “New antimicrobials from nature”.
I’m ESR8 and my PhD project involves finding novel antimicrobial against staphylococcus aureus in the human microbiota. S. aureus is a commensal bacterium and part of the human microbiota. It isn’t harmful under normal circumstances but they can cause infections. In the last few decades, there has been a rise of methicillin-resistant S. aureus or MRSA for short. It renders traditional antibiotic treatments ineffective resulting in a need for new antibiotics. The discovery of novel antibiotic is crucial to alleviate the antibiotic crisis.
Approximately one-third of humans are persistent carriers of S. aureus in their nose. Some people carry them intermittently while some never carries them at all. Based on various studies, it suggests that the microbial composition is responsible for the decolonisation of S. aureus. One possible explanation is the production of antimicrobial compounds that inhibits the growth of S. aureus. By applying statistical models to a large microbiota dataset, the bacteria that antagonises S. aureus can be identified and studied. The hope is that this can help accelerate the development of novel antibiotics.