Ozan Gundogdu – Microbiology & Bioinformatics

What do you do?

I am a microbiologist and bioinformatician at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).  Bioinformatics involves using computer programs to analyse and understand biological data.  My research involves trying to understand how the #1 food-borne bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is able to survive in environments where it really shouldn’t be able to! We do this not only by growing bacteria in the lab.  We also look at the genes in its genome to understand how they allow the bacteria to survive and be persistent.

What can you see?

This is a pit latrine (pit toilet) in Tanzania. My colleague Belen Torondel (also from the LSTHM) has gone down into to extract fecal matter so we can isolate bacterial DNA. Pit latrines are a huge health, social and economic problem. Some pit latrines fill up very quickly, resulting in communities moving away to other areas; while other pits last much longer and self-decompose.
In this project we wanted to see whether we could identify a certain selection of bacteria and environmental conditions which would allow pit latrines to self-decompose. So far we have looked at a snap shot study, and now we are currently looking into a long term study where we correlate the bacteria we find with the rate of latrine fill up. We are looking forward to seeing the results!!

When I’m not doing science I…

play my acoustic guitar, learn Spanish and travel the world!

You can find out more about Ozan & his work on his website www.lshtm.ac.uk/aboutus/people/gundogdu.ozan