Two days ago, our paper on the “Evolution dynamics of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in a healthcare system” was published in the BiomedCentral journal Genome Biology. We sequenced the genomes of 260 clinical MRSA isolates cultured over 3 decades (1982 to 2010) in four Singaporean hospitals – a number that seemed really high back in 2011, but is on the lower end of what is currently being done nowadays. The whole genome sequencing and much of the bioinformatics work was done in 2011, much of which was very pleasantly spent at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, which is located in the village of Hinxton, south of Cambridge, UK. The year out in UK was made possible by a Research Training Fellowship from the National Medical Research Council (NMRC), Singapore.

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute at Hinxton, UK. It is pleasant to sit outside the building in spring, discussing both work and non-work-related stuff.
The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute at Hinxton, UK. It is pleasant to sit outside the building in spring, discussing both work and non-work-related stuff.
Part of the broad and sprawling grounds of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
Part of the broad and sprawling grounds of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
The desk space assigned to me at the Sanger Institute. Anyone opening the door too hard invariably knocked into the chair.
The desk space assigned to me at the Sanger Institute. Anyone opening the door too hard invariably knocked into the chair.

But it is truly thanks to the efforts of Dr. Matthew Holden, who is now Reader (i.e. Associate Professor) at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, Dr. Simon Harris, senior staff scientist at WTSI, and Prof. Sharon Peacock, who is now Director of the Bloomsbury Research Institute, that this work was completed and “converted” into an actual paper. This work culminates what sometimes seems like a personal and quixotic odyssey into understanding the local epidemiology of Staphylococcus aureus. But of course, MRSA has continued to evolve in Singapore – even as we worked on the interaction and dynamics between ST239 and ST22, a new clone of MRSA (ST45) has appeared in the late 2000’s (see the previous timeline post) and appears to be replacing ST239 as well.

More on the background story and results of the work in a subsequent post.

Advertisements