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Dr Ashley Houlden
Lecturer in Biosciences


I am a Microbial Ecologist in the Division of Biosciences, within the College of Health and Life Sciences at the University of Brunel London.

My research interests lie in the assessment of microbial community structure and function using high throughput sequencing and molecular microbiological techniques. Focusing on the Host microbiome their interaction with one another in this community and changes as a result of disease or injury, this characterisation of the communities allows the identification of functionally important changes in microbial assemblages and detection of Antimicrobial Resistance. My research has included work on the impact of stroke, brain injury, parasitic intestinal infections, and dementia on the interactions with the host and its microbiome.

One of my Current research focus areas is women's health, I am studying bacterial vaginosis, the interaction of microbes present in the vagina, detection of potential pathogens, and the development of an in-house in vitro model system using Organ on a Chip technology for 3D tissue culture to simulate the vaginal environment. Linked to this I am interested in the impact that space travel and microgravity has on microbial populations and implications for health.

I am also interested in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and detection of AMR in bacterial communities with a focus on the environmental impact and ecological implications of this. It is becoming increasing an issue that AMR organisms are colonising animal populations and if these pathogens are accumulated in Apex predators via food chain acquisition.

My Doctorial training was in soil microbial ecology carrying out risk assessments and the efficacy of using bacterial biological control agents against fungi diseases of crops in laboratory, glass house and field experiments while at CEH-Oxford/Cardiff University. I then undertook postdoctoral research at The University of Sheffield followed by The University of Manchester continuing research into environmental microbiology looking a biogeochemical cycling of Nitrogen and sulphur. While at Manchester I moved into medical microbiome research as Researcher Co-Investigator on a grant on T. Muris and the impact on the microbiome and host. As a result of this I have formed a number of collaborations involving microbiome research.

Newest selected publications

Houlden, A. and Mackay, R. (2021) 'Can microfluidics be used to create a more realistic in vitro model of the vaginal ectocervix to better understand bacterial vaginosis?'. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 98 (1). pp. 74 - 74. ISSN: 1368-4973 Open Access Link

Journal article

White, EC., Houlden, A., Bancroft, AJ., Hayes, KS., Goldrick, M., Grencis, RK. and et al. (2018) 'Manipulation of host and parasite microbiotas: Survival strategies during chronic nematode infection'. Science Advances, 4 (3). pp. eaap7399. ISSN: 2375-2548 Open Access Link

Journal article

Ramirez, KS., Knight, CG., De Hollander, M., Brearley, FQ., Constantinides, B., Cotton, A., et al. (2017) 'Detecting macroecological patterns in bacterial communities across independent studies of global soils'. Nature Microbiology, 3 (2). pp. 189 - 196. ISSN: 2058-5276 Open Access Link

Journal article

Houlden, A., Goldrick, M., Brough, D., Vizi, ES., Lénárt, N., Martinecz, B., et al. (2016) 'Brain injury induces specific changes in the caecal microbiota of mice via altered autonomic activity and mucoprotein production'. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 57. pp. 10 - 20. ISSN: 0889-1591 Open Access Link

Journal article

Houlden, A., Hayes, KS., Bancroft, AJ., Worthington, JJ., Wang, P., Grencis, RK. and et al. (2015) 'Chronic Trichuris muris infection in C57BL/6 mice causes significant changes in host microbiota and metabolome: Effects reversed by pathogen clearance'. PLoS ONE, 10 (5). pp. e0125945 - e0125945. ISSN: 1932-6203

Journal article
More publications(11)