Welcome to the growing archive of ECR blogposts on our OMIG site. Thanks to all contributors.


OMIG PGR Prize Symposium 2021

For the first official blogpost on the new website, we thought to revisit our recent PGR Prize Symposium held on Friday 26th March 2021. This was held entirely virtually using the Hopin platform with a range of different 10-minute oral and poster presentations, each designed to be drop-in style series of sessions for our 80 registrants. Across the whole day, a steady audience of roughly 40 people were present, with numbers fluctuating across the sessions dependant on the topic presented. Admittedly, we were a little apprehensive at first, but given the oral microbiology and immunology PGR community across the UK being relatively small in comparison to other societies, we were overjoyed to reach such numbers of attendees.

We had 16 presenters in total from across the UK, based at a range of different dental institutions such as Kings College London and the Universities of Glasgow, Sheffield, Liverpool and Bristol. A notable mention to the Sheffield Hallam University cohort too, proving that OMIG is not only exclusive to the dental school community!

A total of 5 students ranging from first to final year PhD candidates presented their work in poster “flash session” format. Biophysics PhD student Aileen Delaney from the University of Leeds was voted favourite poster entitled “Using Microfluidics, Raman Spectroscopy and Microbubbles to Investigate and Control Oral Biofilms.” This goes to show that OMIG has a multi-disciplinary membership!

Many congratulations to Aileen Delaney of the University of Leeds for winning best poster presentation.

Aileen who is a 2nd year PhD student in the School of Physics and Astronomy at University of Leeds, shared an overview of her research and experience on the day. “I am based in Molecular and Nanoscale Physics group in Leeds where many of us look at biological structures and try to use physics to get a better understanding of how things work. My work involves using Raman spectroscopy to learn more about biofilms, and specifically how the bacteria interact with each other in a 5-species oral biofilm model. As a physicist, it was really nice to hear about other work in the oral microbiology community at the PGR symposium, and to see how it overlaps with some of the work I do. I thought the layout of the conference was really good too, having posters available for people to browse all day was a nice feature and talks were a good length and easy to ask any questions.”

In total we heard 11 oral presentations across the day. These topics ranged from in vitro oral biofilm model systems, virulence factors of oral microbes, antimicrobial testing and the connection between the oral microbiome and systemic diseases. In sponsorship with the Journal of Medical Microbiology (Microbiology Society), we awarded the best oral presentation to final year PhD student Tracy Young of the Oral Sciences Research Group at the University of Glasgow for her talk on “Polymicrobial Oral Biofilms and the Importance of C. albicans as a “Keystone” Component”.

The vast array of topics presented by students at the recent OMIG PGR symposium.

Tracy who is weeks away from her PhD viva (good luck!) had some pleasant words to say about the PGR symposium experience. “I thought it was a really great symposium highlighting the many different aspects of oral microbiology and immunology work being carried out. I believe it helped early career researchers and PhD students to maybe think outside the box of their own research and that can only be a good thing in advancing the field. I thought the day was successful and that the timings were just right in terms of breaks/number of presentations. I did have some pre-presentation nerves in the backstage “area” particularly as I had never used the Hopin platform but everything went smoothly and I’m grateful to OMIG for the opportunity to present my work”.

Many congratulations to Tracy Young of the University of Glasgow for winning best oral presentation. Many thanks to Journal of Medical Microbiology (MicroSoc) for sponsoring the prize!

The stats from the website confirm that we had plenty of engagement on our main stage and attendees asked plenty of exciting questions. We would like to thank everyone for their attendance and hope to see you all in person for the next OMIG symposium!

The engagement from the audience on the day.

Blogpost by Jason Brown and Ricarda Streich.

MAY BLOGPOST – ECR discussion with PhD student, William Johnston

I am delighted to announce the first monthly OMIG discussion with the early career researchers from the society. The purpose of these blogposts is to highlight the research of leading ECRs in the field of OMIG. In the first blogpost below, PhD student William Johnston from the University of Glasgow will introduce himself and discuss his work on investigating the host inflammatory and microbiological responses in periodontitis patients following therapy.

Will in his natural habitat of the class II microbiological hood!
  • Who are you and what is your background? where you are from, qualifications, current position etc.

I am a third year PhD student at the University of Glasgow. I am originally from Glasgow although I spent a large portion of my life in the United Arab Emirates where I attended high school. In 2014 I returned to the UK for my undergraduate studies in Biomedical Science at Glasgow Caledonian University. As part of my undergraduate studies, I undertook a 6-month placement in NHS Microbiology laboratories at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, where I subsequently worked as an Associate Practitioner for a further 4 months. In 2018 I graduated with a 1st class honours degree and started my current PhD project the same year.

  • What is your current research on? Can you discuss the key findings from your recent publication?

Most recently I have been working on a longitudinal study we performed at Glasgow Dental School, looking at the host and microbial response following non-surgical periodontal therapy. From this study, we primarily wanted to see how the immune response and subgingival plaque microbiome were altered by this mechanical form of treatment. Additionally, we investigated whether any host or microbial marker was associated with residual disease, and whether the baseline microbiota may be used to predict treatment success!

Following treatment, we found widespread alterations in the composition of the subgingival plaque microbiota. This included a reduction in the diversity of the subgingival plaque and reduced abundance of disease associated species! We also performed some association networks and found a residual anaerobic core, with Rothia negatively correlating with some of these genera (figure below)! This is really interesting and something that should be looked into further, as we discuss a few interesting mechanisms that might be driving this association! From an inflammatory perspective we also found a positive association between salivary IL-1β and periodontal disease severity, and consistent reductions in this marker following treatment!

Genus-level association network at day 90. Graph taken from figure 5 of the manuscript.
  • Where there any unusual results from the study? Any challenges etc that you struggled to overcome?

Although we saw a lot of host and microbial changes following treatment, unfortunately we did not find any predictive capacity of the microbiota when we looked at treatment response. Additionally, we found that salivary IL-17A actually increased following treatment which was very surprising. The literature on salivary IL-17A is quite varied and we are currently looking in some of our other longitudinal studies to see if similar alterations are present, and why this is happening!

In terms of challenges, I started my PhD project with no background in clinical dentistry. It was a big learning curve to understand all the different clinical parameters, but I had a lot of help from our team in Glasgow. Learning how to analyse microbiome data was also very challenging (and intimidating!), so I’m very grateful to our statistical team in Glasgow and collaborators in Valencia that guided me through the maze!

  • What was the publication process like? Were SciReps are journal that you would publish in again? Any challenging reviewers comments?

Overall, I had a very good experience with Scientific Reports. The handling Editor kept us updated on the progress of our manuscript and found reviewers quickly. All in our manuscript took 5 months from submission to acceptance, although this did include 2 review rounds and some additional analysis. It was quite daunting at first reading all of the reviewer’s comments, but they definitely improved the quality of our paper! The reviewer’s suggested some extra analysis which took some time, but it was a good suggestion and addressed some aspects we had initially overlooked, so I have no complaints!

  • What are the next steps with regard to the study? Are any further papers in the pipeline…

Although we showed microbial and immunological alterations after treatment, we only included a single timepoint (day 90). It would be really interesting to study both earlier and later timepoints, which would allow us to see how the biofilm and immune response recover and how long these shifts are maintained. I am currently working on another clinical study we ran at Glasgow and hopefully we can address some of these questions!

  • Any tips to new research Masters or PhD students on getting their work published?

My best advice would be to start with what message you want to convey, and build the paper around this. One of the most difficult aspects I found was selecting which figures go in the main manuscript and which go in the supplementary file, having a clear message from the outset will answer this question and keep the figures relevant to the rest of the paper! I would also say it’s good to have an idea of what journal you want to submit to at an early stage. A lot of journals have different limits on word count, figures or even references, so it’s best to bear this in mind and avoid any late-night formatting!

You can keep up to date with Will’s research by following him on Twitter @Will_Johnston97. The above publication can be accessed at the following link (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33963212/)

Blogpost by Dr Jason L Brown, Postdoctoral Representative for OMIG.

If you want get involved in these blogposts and promote your research to the OMIG community then please get in touch via Twitter (either via @OMIG_BSODR_UK or my personal Twitter @JasonLBrown1991), or email me on jason.brown@glasgow.ac.uk