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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Dr Franklin Nobrega BSc, MSc, PhD

Lecturer in Microbiology, Principal Investigator Microbiology

Dr Franklin Nobrega's photo

Dr Franklin Nobrega is a Lecturer in Microbiology within the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton. His research focuses on the arms-race between bacteria and their viruses, the bacteriophages, from a biological, ecological, and therapeutic perspective. He seeks to understand the impact of bacteriophages in shaping natural microbial communities, particularly their role in the evolution of defence and anti-defence mechanisms, and their capacity to modulate bacterial metabolism, especially in biofilm and gut communities. He also works to develop innovative phage therapy approaches to fight antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

Career history

2020-Present: Lecturer. University of Southampton, UK
2019-2020: Scientific advisor. SNIPRBiome, Denmark.
2019-2020: Scientific advisor. BGI Group, China.
2017-2020: Postdoctoral fellow. Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.
2016-2017: Postdoctoral fellow. Wageningen University, Netherlands.


2021-2023: Bowel Research UK Small Grant. University of Southampton, UK.
Wessex Medical Research Innovation Grant, University of Southampton, UK.
IfLS Stimulus Fund, University of Southampton, UK.
AHSCC-19Engage. University of Southampton, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, UK.
2019-2020: ZonMw Diabetes Fonds. Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.
2017-2020: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research Veni NOW-ALW grant. Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.

Academic qualifications

2013-2017: PhD Microbiology. Wageningen University, Netherlands.
2008-2009: MSc Biotechnology. Faculty of Science and Technology, Portugal.
2003-2007: BSc Biotechnological Engineering, Lusofona University, Portugal

Research interests

Study of bacterial immunity and counter-defence systems

My research group is interested in the molecular and structural aspects of bacterial defence systems, such as CRISPR and DISARM, and phage anti-defence proteins such as anti-CRISPR proteins. We also investigate the role of defences and anti-defences in natural environments, such as biofilms and the gut. In particular, we are interested in the following questions: what is the real impact of defence systems in natural environments? Is protection given by defence systems as important in biofilms as in planktonic bacteria? Can we identify defence systems expressed exclusively in a biofilm state? Are there links between biofilm and defence system regulation?

Bacteriophages in localized gut microbial communities

The gut is an heterogeneous environment, and as such the distribution of bacteria and phages can be variable. My research group is interested in studying phage distribution and residence time in different sections of the gut, their influence on the establishment of localized microbial communities (e.g. microcolonies), and their impact on human health.
For more detail and other research interests see my personal webpage.

Phage therapy

Recent years have seen an alarming rise in infections caused by bacteria able to resist to many, if not all, antibiotic treatments. This requires the urgent development of alternative therapies that work against multidrug resistant bacterial pathogens. One such alternative is phage therapy, which uses phages to control bacterial infections. We work to develop innovative phage therapy approaches and to test their safety and efficacy in clinical contexts.

PhD supervision

Thomas Todeschini (supervision)
Yi Wu (supervision)
Daniela Rothschild Rodriguez (supervision)
Pauline van Haastrecht (supervision)
Cristian Aparicio-Maldonado (TU Delft, co-supervision)
Simran Krishnakant Kushwaha (Birla Institute of Technology and Science, co-supervision)
Jake Hudson (NIAB EMR, co-supervision)

Research group


Affiliate research groups

Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS), Computational and Systems Biology

Research project(s)

Discover novel ways used by phages to strike back against bacterial defences

Using phages to give new life to old antibiotics against superbugs

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Book Chapter

  • Luzia De Nobrega, F., Lavigne, R., & Brouns, S. JJ. (2017). Revival of phage therapy. In J. van Doorn, C. Biemans, J. Luirink, J. van der Oost, B. Oudega, L. Robertson, H. Smit, & P. Willemsen (Eds.), Mighty Microbes - The amazing worlds of microorganisms Stichting Microcanon.



Dr Franklin Nobrega
School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Life Sciences Building 85
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
SO17 1BJ

Dr Franklin Nobrega's personal home page
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