Dr Marloes Peeters
Lecturer in Chemical Biology at Manchester Metropolitan University
International Research Group in Biosensors
web page: www.marloespeeters.nl
The glucose sensor and the pregnancy test are biosensors that are widely adopted in our society. However, there is a lack of devices you can use from home for the detection of a variety of biomolecules, such as for the screening of disease markers. That is exactly where my research on the development of novel portable biosensors fits in; it is very applied, multidisciplinary and challenging – and that is exactly why I love it.
My career path is somewhat unusual, I started off with a degree in Chemical Engineering (in the Netherlands) and then moved to a Physics group (Belgium), followed by a postdoc in hardcore Organic Chemistry (London). I believe that I needed training in all these different disciplines to set up my own research group at Manchester Metropolitan University, not to mention the fact that it comes in handy that I can teach topics ranging from the Krebs cycle to the modelling of fluid dynamics.
The focus of my current research lies on the detection of antimicrobial compounds, such as antibiotics and bacteria with antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This is highly topical and AMR has been declared a threat to human health – the ‘bugs’ are outrunning us and are becoming resistant faster than we can develop new antibiotics. The sensor that I develop are different in the sense that they rely on detection based on temperature, which is a new concept. We have patented this and I hope to create a commercial prototype together with companies. Ultimately, these sensors could be used for the screening of infections in hospitals but also to determine traces of antibiotics in food samples such as milk or meat.
What I can recommend to anyone: I was never good at selecting 1 particular topic that I liked and that is what you see in my career path. I think this, in combination with my international placements, brought me to where I am now – so don’t be afraid to try something new that is perhaps scary!