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WHO Collaborating Centre

for Modelling, Evolution and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases


Stephen Bentley has a joint position between the Department of Medicine and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. His expertise is in the genomics of bacterial pathogenesis with a particular focus on pneumonia and meningitis. Stephen pioneered the use of high throughput genomics to improve understanding of fundamental processes of bacterial evolution such as point mutation rate and homologous recombination. This approach has been successfully applied to study the phenomenon of vaccine escape in the pneumococcus, the main cause of vaccine preventable pneumonia mortality worldwide. He is also applying genomics to study local population dynamics, person-to-person transmission, global spread and micro-evolution during infection. Stephen’s work is greatly empowered by strong collaborative links with clinicians and scientist worldwide, many based in countries where infectious disease burden is high.


Key publications: 

Harris, S.R.; Cartwright, E.J.P.; Török, M.E.; Holden, M.T.G.; Brown, N.M.; Ogilvy-Stuart, A.L.; Ellington, M.J.; Quail, M.A.; Bentley, S.D.; Parkhill, J.; Peacock, S.J. Whole-genome sequencing for analysis of an outbreak of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: a descriptive study. The Lancet Infectious Diseases 2012 Nov 13.

Croucher, N.J.; Harris, S.R.; Fraser, C.; Quail, M.A.; Burton, J.; van der Linden, M.; McGee, L.; von Gottberg, A.; Song, J.H.; Ko, K.S.; Pichon, B.; Baker, S.; Parry, C.M.; Lambertsen, L.M.; Shahinas, D.; Pillai, D.R.; Mitchell, T.J.; Dougan, G.; Tomasz, A.; Klugman, K.P.; Parkhill, J.; Hanage, W.P.; Bentley, S.D. Rapid pneumococcal evolution in response to clinical interventions. Science. 2011b Jan 28;331(6016):430-434.

Harris, S.R.; Feil, E.J.; Holden, M.T.; Quail, M.A.; Nickerson, E.K.; Chantratita, N.; Gardete, S.; Tavares, A.; Day, N.; Lindsay, J.A.; Edgeworth, J.D.; de Lencastre, H.; Parkhill, J.; Peacock, S.J.; Bentley, S.D. Evolution of MRSA during hospital transmission and intercontinental spread. Science. 2010 Jan 22;327(5964):469-474.