Congratulations to Nicole Kavanagh from the Microbiology Group - Division IV
Congratulations to Nicole Kavanagh from the Microbiology Group Division IV who was awarded a prize for a poster she presented on her PhD research at the recent Infection Prevention Control Ireland annual national conference held at Croke Park on the 19th of May 2023.
The title of Nicole’s poster was “Mobile genetic elements in Irish hospital vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium – local evolution and survival by genome plasticity: A tale of twelve-hundred genomes”.
Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VREfm) are major hospital-acquired bacterial pathogens globally, with a 40% attributable mortality associated with invasive infections. Ireland has consistently reported one of the highest invasive VREfm rates in Europe, yet little was known about its epidemiology, population structure, evolution or transmission dynamics.
Nicole’s work revealed that Irish VREfm are diverse and have evolved independently from VREfm in other countries. Irish VREfm have large accessory-genomes comprised of circular and linear plasmids, which enable the organisms to adapt rapidly to changing environmental conditions, resulting in the inter- and intra-hospital spread spread of VREfm clones in Ireland.
The establishment of a comprehensive database of VREfm whole-genome sequences resulting from Nicole’s work will facilitate tracking routes of transmission and inform enhanced infection prevention and control strategies.
Nicole’s work is funded by grant No. ILP-POR-2019-010 from the Health Research Board to Prof. David Coleman.