Research Grant Awardees 2006

Surbhi Malhotra-Kumar
born 1972 in Sirsa, India; PhD, post-doctoral fellow, Belgian Reference Centre for Group A Streptococcus, Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium


Analysis of novel genetic elements and resistance mechanisms, fitness costs and compensatory adaptations in macrolide-, ketolide-, and fluoroquinolone-resistant Group A Streptococcus

ESCMID/FEMS Research Fellowship

Each year ESCMID and FEMS foster outstanding research in microbiology by young Europeans with joint fellowships. We are delighted to announce that Surbhi Malhotra-Kumar has been selected to receive the 2006 ESCMID/FEMS fellowship in addition to her research grant.

Research Interests

The research of Surbhi Malhotra-Kumar is focussed on the molecular epidemiology and genetics of resistance to the macrolide-, ketolide-, and fluoroquinolone group of antimicrobials in oral streptococci, primarily Group A Streptococcus (GAS). Using the oro-pharyngeal flora in healthy individuals as a model, Surbhi Malhotra-Kumar has also analysed differences in selection pressure of various macrolides and the resulting impact on resistance. Continuing as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Herman Goossens, her current work includes further analysis of novel and emerging genetic elements harboring macrolide resistance gene mutants and elucidating the basis of ketolide resistance in GAS, and the fitness costs of antibiotic resistance gene carriage.

Sofia K. Kasiakou
born 1975 in Athens, Greece; MD, Research Fellow at the Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Marousi, Greece and Resident in Internal Medicine at the Sotira General Hospital, Athens, Greece


A multicenter, randomised, double-blind, controlled trial of the effectiveness and safety of intravenous colistin with or without intravenous meropenem in ICU patients for infections other than pneumonia due to colistin-only-sensitive bacteria.

Research Interests
The focus of Sofia Kasiakou’s research is on projects related to the effectiveness and safety of intravenous and aerosolised polymyxins for the treatment of patients with multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacterial infections. Polymyxin B and polymyxin E (colistin), the two polymyxins used in clinical practice, are old antibiotics that were removed from clinical use for many decades because of toxicity concerns. However, the emergence of highly-resistant pathogens brought them back. In addition, she is interested in the investigation of alternative modes of intravenous administration of antibiotics, specifically the continuous intravenous infusion of antibiotics with time-dependent antibacterial activity, in order to optimise their pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties, and thus improve clinical outcomes.

Project Report

Rocus R. Klont
born 1970 in Oldenzaal, The Netherlands; MD, Department of Medical Microbiology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Development of a serological system for the diagnosis of invasive zygomycoses

Research Interests
The main research interest of Rocus Klont is the development of a non-invasive diagnostic method for invasive zygomycoses. The incidence of this disease is increasing. These moulds cause devastating infections in the immunocompromised host with high mortality and morbidity. Aggressive surgery and treatment with antifungal agents are required to improve the patients’ outcome. Conventional diagnostic methods such as microscopy and culture are not sensitive enough. Experienced technicians can indicate if the morphology of mycelia found in tissue specimens is consistent with zygomycoses, but identification to genus or species level cannot be achieved. Recovery of zygomycetes from tissue by culture can be very difficult even in those cases where hyphae are visible under the microscope. The development of a non-invasive diagnostic technique such as the detection of circulating zygomycete antigens may result in earlier diagnosis of the disease and improve clinical outcome.