• Question: What was the first thing u discovered?

    Asked by gogo2007 to Reka, Laura, Kat, Hannah, Freya on 21 Jan 2019.
    • Photo: Laura Nolan

      Laura Nolan answered on 21 Jan 2019:

      I guess the first thing that I really discovered in science was during my PhD. I was working on understanding which environmental signals a bacteria respond to in order to change how the bacteria moves about across tissues in our bodies and along implanted medical devices. One of the signals I identified was extracellular ATP. This was interesting because ATP is the energy unit used by cells, but it is also a signal for the immune system to mount a response against cell damage (which can be caused by a lot of things including bacterial infection) – for bacteria I found this signal told the bacteria to stop moving and make a protected structure called a biofilm. Being in this protected state then allows the bacteria to remain ‘hidden’ so that the immune system (which has been activated by the ATP signal too) won’t be able to kill them. So a pretty specific finding but for me it was interesting!