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Dr Katie Laird

Job: Reader in Microbiology, Head of the Infectious Disease Research Group and Faculty Deputy Head of Research Students

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: Leicester School of Pharmacy

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH.

T: +44 (0)116 207 8106



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Personal profile

Dr Katie Laird is a Reader in Microbiology in the School of Pharmacy and head of the Infectious Disease Research Group at  De Montfort University. She has a BSc (Hons) in Biology and obtained a PhD in applied microbiology in 2008.

During her PhD she developed and patented an essential oil based antimicrobial vapour, whilst her postdoctoral work included the assessment of natural antimicrobials efficacy against post-harvest pathogens.

Her research is centred on the prevention of transmission of Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAIs) particularly the use of novel antimicrobials. Current research projects include C. difficile transmission on healthcare laundry, reducing the attachment of micro-organisms to textiles in the healthcare arena, the use of metal nanoparticles against biofilms and the development of natural products for the use in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry. Other projects inculde the assessment of the lay publics understanding of antibiotic resistance. Katie is the author of "A Germ's Journey" Educational Resources teaching young children about health hygiene having an impact globally.

Research group affiliations

Infectious Disease Research Group

Research interests/expertise

  • Hospital Acquired Infections
  • Enterococcus spp.
  • C. difficile
  • Healthcare Laundry
  • Biofilms
  • Novel antimicrobials (nano-metals and natural products)

There are two main areas of research currently being conducted, one of which is the assessment of novel antimicrobials such as essential oils and nano-metals against HAIs both in vegetative and biofilm form for use in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.

Secondly, healthcare textiles are being assessed for their potential as cross contamination routes for C. diffilice and other HAIs. The effectiveness of the NHS laundering policy at removing microbial loads on bed linen from the hospital ward through to the national contractors for NHS laundering and on-site laundering in care homes is being determined; as well as studies on the attachment of micro-organisms to textile fibres. In addition, novel antimicrobial ingredients for washing detergents and textile coatings are also being explored.

Katie has also developed a book and website ( for pre-school aged children to learn about health and hygiene "A Germ's Journey - Dirty Hands, Clean Hands"

Areas of teaching

  • Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science (BSc): Basic Microbiology & Biopharmaceuticals
  • Pharmacy (MPharm): Pharmaceutical microbiology, asepsis, inflammation, infection, the skin and the pulmonary system
  • Dissertation projects
  • MSc Students
  • PhD Students.

Honours and awards

  • DMU Future Research Leaders Fellow (2015)
  • Outstanding Poster Award the American Society of Microbiology (2015)
  • Medici Fellow  – Birmingham University (2014)
  • HACCP Level 4  (2011)
  • DMU Media Fellowship (2010).
  • Chartered Biologist (2010), Society of Biology
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2009)
  • House of Commons award (2008) for research excellence in Hospital Acquired      Infections by Alan Johnson (Health Secretary). 

Membership of external committees

  • Main Committee Member for the Society for Applied Microbiology July 2010 – July 2013.
  • Meetings sub-committe member for the Society of Applied Microbiology July 2010 - 2015. 

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Society for Applied Microbiology – main committee member (2005-2008)
  • American Society of Microbiology (2006)
  • Society of General Microbiology (2006)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2008)
  • British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (2007)
  • Society of Biology (2009).


Partnerships in Knowledge Transfer (PiKT), European Regional Development Fund, Essential oil blends for the use in skin care products. PI, collaborators: Penny Price Aromatherapy, March 2014- March 2015: 87K

Forthcoming events

Katie leads in collboration with Medilink East Midlands the Infectious Disease Special Interest Group for the East Midlands, please visit to see when the next event is.

A Germ's Journey activity pop up shop for Children aged 18 months - 6 years will be held in Highcross Shopping Centre Leicester from the 19th-21st of April.

Conference attendance

Food micro Conference
  • Copenhagen, Denmark, August  2010:Inhibition of legionellae in water by citrus essential oils and components.
  • Italy September 2006: The effect of citrus essential oils and vapours and their components on the survival of foodborne pathogenic bacteria in vitro and in food systems.

House of Commons, Set for Britain

  • March 2007: Citrus essential oils: a potential bactericide in both the clinical and food arenas.

American Society of Microbiology Conference

  • New Orleans, USA, May 2015: Clostridium difficile and the UK Healthcare      Laundry Policy: How clean is your hospital bed? (Outstanding poster award).
  • San Diego, USA, May 2010:  Analysis of the Antimicrobial Components of Citri-V™®:An Essential Oil Based Vapour.
  • Boston, USA, June 2008: The mechanism of action of a citrus oil blend against Enterococcus sp.
  • Toronto, May 2007: The use of citrus essential oils, temperature and pH (hurdle technology) against Enterococcus sp.

Society for Applied Microbiology Conference

  • Dublin, July 2015: 1) Novel green antimicrobial textile coatings for use in the healthcare and sport arenas,  2) Comparison of the antibacterial effect of silver and zinc oxide in solution and on coated surfaces on biofilms (2nd prize, student      poster competition) & 3) Developing a topical preparation containing a      synergistic antimicrobial combination of essential oils for the control of acne vulgaris-associated bacteria.
  • Brighton, July 2014:Clostridium difficile spores and healthcare laundry policy: How clean is your hospital bed?
  • Edinburgh, July 2012: Reproducibility of a Static and a Continuous Flow Method for the Formation of Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms & Bacterial contamination of healthcare uniforms and survival on different textile fibre types.
  • Dublin, July 2011: Assessment of methods for recovery of Clostridium difficile spores from textiles.
    • Belfast, July 2008: The use of ozonated water to inhibit pathogenic bacteria.
    • Cardiff, June 2007: The use of citrus essential oils against Enterococcus faecium and E. faecalis.

Society of General Microbiology Conference

  • Harrogate March 2009: The use of an antimicrobial citrus vapour to reduce Enterococcus sp. on lettuce and cucumber.


  • Cape Town, South Africa, August 2010: The effect of an essential oil vapour on the growth of Penicillium chrysogenum, Aspergillus niger and Alternaria alternate in vitro and on food." (oral presentation)

Textile Institute World Conference

  • Shah Alam, Malyasia, May 2012: How closely do hospital staff follow NHS guidelines on domestic laundering procedures? (oral presentation).

Australian Society for Microbiology

  • Melbourne, July 2014:  Can fibre type have a role in the reduction of microorganism survival on healthcare uniforms?

Royal Pharmaceutical Society

  • Brighton, September 2014: Perceptions of antibiotic use and microbial resistance - a pilot study to test the potential of a fictitious vignette to assess lay beliefs and attitudes (oral presentation).

Euroscicon - Antibiotic alternatives for the new millennium

  • London, November 2014:
  • A Citrus Essential Oil Vapour: An Alternative to Chemical Disinfectants (oral presentation).
  • Comparison of the antibacterial effect of silver and zinc oxide in solution

            and on coated surfaces.

  • An Investigation of the Double and Triple Synergistic Antimicrobial Interactions Between Litsea, Rosewood and Clove Essential Oils Against Acne-Associated Bacteria Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermidis.




Consultancy work

  • Product development
  • Healthcare textiles and laundering
  • Contamination and transmission routes for disease.
  • Food poisoning outbreaks
  • Food spoilage.
  • Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAIs)
  • Infection control – how to prevent outbreaks of viral and bacterial disease
  • New antimicrobials


Previous desktop analysis studies for efficacy of products have been conducted, also possible lab based projects could be conducted on the efficacy of antimicrobial products.

Expertise in efficacy of antimicrobial textiles or laundry products for the clinical and food arena

Talk Back UK -Channel 4 (How Clean is Your House?) BBC 3 – The Late Edition ITV – GMTV: This involved enumeration and identification of bacterial and fungal species using a variety of techniques and also includes report writing and on-site (location) consultancy during filming or reporting.

Work is currently being carried out with Channel 4 for the production of a series (“Twinsitute”) for prime time TV, looking at the science behind bathing and showering, removal of micro-organisms, the difference between cheap and expensive beauty products etc. We are waiting to hear if the programme will be commissioned.

 Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Plans (HACCP) in order to be able to offer food manufactures consultancy on setting up their food manufacturing lines so that they meet food safety legislation and be able to train their staff in HACCP.

Current research students

Current research student supervisions:

  • PhD - Mechanisms of action of novel plant formulations against Enterococcus sp. Oct 2017-2021, 1st Supervisor
  • PhD - A Germ's Journey Educational Resources, Oct 2017-2023, 2nd Supervisor
  • PhD– Development of novel synergistic therapeutic strategies to combat      antimicrobial resistance: critical roles for natural products, PhD, Oct 2015 – 2018      - 1st Supervisor
  • PhD – Natural products antimicrobial textile coatings for use in the sports and travel arenas. Oct 2014-2017 – 1st Supervisor
  • PhD      – The use of nano-metals against biofilms in a biomedical context. Oct      2011-2014 – 1st Supervisor
  • PhD      - Survival of Clostridium difficile on cloth and exploration of new      interventions during healthcare laundering, Oct 2010-2013 – 1st Supervisor.
  • PhD  - Shape controlled synthesis of different nanoparticle metals. Oct 2012- 2017 – 2nd Supervisor
  • PhD- Lay perceptions of  antimicrobial resistance. Apr 2014-2019 – 2nd Supervisor


Completions: 3 PhD and 1 MRes

Externally funded research grants information

PAL International, Industrial Project, April 2018 - Dec 2018, £20K, PI

Microfresh, Industrial Project, March 2018 - Dec 2018: £45K, PI

Clinical Fabric Solutions, Industrial Project, Assessment of antimicrobial healthcare textiles. Feb 2017-August 2017: £7500, PI

Textiles company- Industrial Project, Assessment of antimicrobial detergents for healthcare laundry. July 2016-July 2017: £5000, PI

Educational Resources Grant, Society for Applied microbiology, A Germs Journey. July 2016-July 2017: £3,855.00, PI

Travel Grant, Microbiology Society, Chemical analysis of natural products in combination with antibiotics. Oct 2016-Jan 2017: £3000, PI

Analysis antimicrobial effect of natural oil extracted from plant based product on Gut Microflora, Industrial Project: Jan 2015- Aug 2015: £6000, CI

DAAD Rise Programme: Internship from Germany for research placement starting Aug 2015: £5000, PI

Partnerships in Knowledge Transfer (PiKT), European Regional Development Fund, Essential oil blends for the use in skin care products. PI, collaborators: Penny Price Aromatherapy, March 2014- March 2015: 87K

Students into Work Grant, Society for Applied Microbiology (2011):2.5K

DAAD Rise Programme: Internship for research placement starting July 2011.

NIHR- Physical Environment funding (£110K) 2008 – 2009, led by Dr Terry Tudor at the University of Northampton, researching the effect of clinical waste procedures on hospital – acquired infections – microbiologist

EMDA -Innovation Fellowship (£15K) 2009 – 2010, led by Prof Carol Phillips at the Northampton University studying the effect of Citri-V™® on postharvest Pathogens PI.

EMDA Collaboration fund (£36K) 2009 – 2010 in association with Nottingham & Northampton University and the SME Falvometrix, assessing the antimicrobial components of Citri-V and their volatile release profiles.

EMDA -Innovation Fellowship (£15K) 2010 – 2011, led by Prof Carol Phillips at the Northampton University studying the effect of Citri-V™® on postharvest Pathogens, collaborators.

Internally funded research project information

  • CARA PhD Bursary - Mechanisms of action of novel plant formulations against Enterococcus sp. Oct 2017-2021, £49K
  • PhD Student Bursary (Fees only) – Development of novel synergistic therapeutic strategies to combat antimicrobial resistance: critical roles for natural products, PhD, Oct 2015 – 2018: £12 60
  • Higher Education Innovation Fund, Infectious Disease Research Group Networking Launch, Sept 2016 – July 2017: £3000,
  • Internal PhD Bursary - Antimicrobial textile coatings for use in the sports and travel arenas. Oct 2014-2017:  £62,988
  • Research leave award: The use of natural products in synergy with antibiotics – Sept 2014 - Jan 2015: £5000
  • Medici Fellowship: Birmingham University, Jan- Nov 2014:
  • Future Research Leadership: Jan 2015 – Dec 2015: £3000
  • Internal PhD Bursary (Fees only) – The use of nano-metals against biofilms in a biomedical  context. Oct 2011-2014: £12 600
  • Internal PhD Bursary - Survival of Clostridium difficile on cloth and exploration of new interventions during healthcare      laundering, Oct 2010-2013: £54K
  • 3D spacer fabrics for medical applications, RIF, Oct 2010-Oct 2011, (£10,000), CI.
  • Pump Prime Funds: Development of consultancy expertise and equipment, Oct 2010- Oct 2011 (£10,000), PI.

Published patents

United Kingdom Patent Application No. 0809935.0: Antimicrobial citrus essential oil blend vapour.

Professional esteem indicators

Reviewer for the Journal of Applied Microbiology and Letters in Applied Microbiology.

Invited Speaker:

      • Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA), Low Temperature washing of Nurses Uniforms, USA, September 2017 via webinar
  1. Infection Control and Prevention Conference; Knowlex  (Knowledge Exchange for the NHS), Domestic Laundering of Nurses Uniforms: The Effect of Low Temperature Laundering, Leeds, 12th July  2017.
  2. European Textile Services Association (ETSA), Hygiene of Domestic Laundering – Evaluating Risks and Opportunities. Paris 14th-16th  of June
  3. Infection Control and Prevention; Knowlex (Knowledge Exchange for the NHS), Domestic Laundering of Nurses Uniforms: The Effect of Low Temperature Laundering, London, Feb 2017.
  4. Society of Hospital Linen Services and Laundry Managers Conference; Stratford Upon Avon, Domestic Laundering of Healthcare Uniforms, May 2016
  5. Penny Price Aromatherapy Open Day, Hinckley, A citrus essential oil vapour a possible chemical disinfectant, May 2015

Chair of the East Midlands Infectious Disease Special Interest Group (Medilink)


Case studies

Examples of evidence of the ‘Impact’ of research e.g. references to reviews/articles in main stream media, examples of feedback from users, exhibition attendance figures.