Dr Deborah O'Neil holding a stack of petri dishes.

I‘m an Immunologist by training and believe that fighting infection through the same or similar mechanisms which the body’s immune system employs to combat bacteria and fungi, is one solution to this enormous infectious disease challenge. I have always been fascinated by biology; how the body functions in health and disease. I fell in love with immunology from my first university lecture, despite (or because of?) the fascinating complexity and criticality of the immune system to our health.

Dr Deborah O’Neil

I invent and develop new medicines for difficult to treat diseases. These are infectious diseases caused by bacteria or fungi and also chronic diseases of the respiratory tract. I am the Chief Executive and Scientific Officer of NovaBiotics Ltd, the company I founded in 2004 in order to research and study the therapeutic potential of these new medicines, through laboratory testing and in clinical trials in healthy volunteers and patients. The medicines that I am developing are novel classes of therapy for a range of socioeconomically significant conditions including drug-resistant bacterial infections, life-threatening
fungal infections and cystic fibrosis. The therapies I have invented are unique and are based on the effector molecules that are deployed by the body’s immune system as a first line of defence against infection by bacteria and fungi. My research has demonstrated that these biological antimicrobials also have potential in non-infectious chronic inflammatory diseases.

There is an urgent need for new medicines to combat bacterial and fungal infections and the global antimicrobial resistance crisis. The effectiveness of existing treatments and the pipeline of new therapies from existing drug classes are both dwindling. New solutions to this clinical challenge are required. Novel classes of therapy are needed that act against infections that are already drug-resistant and work in ways that minimise or prevent opportunities for future antimicrobial resistance.

Deborah is holding petri dishes where she grows life-threatening bacteria and fungi.