Rather than living as single, isolated cells in liquid cultures, most bacteria on this planet form macroscopic, surface-attached, multi-cellular communities known as biofilms. Bacterial biofilms play a role in many diseases and medical conditions including cystic fibrosis, bone, wound and urinary tract infections. Bacterial cells in a biofilm community show increased tolerance to antibiotics, making medical treatment difficult. Understanding this fundamental bacterial developmental process is therefore critical to understanding the colonization process of pathogenic bacteria.
The goal of Tanmay Bharat’s research is to study general principles governing bacterial biofilm formation at the molecular level. Tanmay’s research group uses electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM) and tomography (cryo-ET) methods to resolve structures of molecules that mediate biofilm formation. These imaging techniques are combined with biochemistry, microbiology and mass spectrometry (MS) to understand how bacterial cells switch from a planktonic to a community lifestyle.
Tanmay Bharat is a Group Leader and a Royal Society / Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellow at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, where he studies bacterial biofilm formation using high-resolution electron microscopy techniques. He was previously a postdoctoral fellow with Jan Löwe at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK and trained with John A.G. Briggs as a graduate student at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. He is also a recipient of the Bayer Healthcare Award (GBM, Germany), EMBO long-term fellowship, FEBS long-term fellowship, EMBO advanced fellowship and the Rhodes Scholarship.