- Course: Organic Chemistry PhD
- PhD title: Discovering novel and broad-spectrum antibiotics from unexplored human skin Actinobacteria to address antibiotic resistance
- Nationality: Indonesian
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurent-octaviana-893887122
Laurent is studying for a PhD by research in the School of Chemistry, specialising in ‘natural products extraction and utilisation,’ where she is supervised by Professor Chris Rayner. Having an interdisciplinary focus, she also collaborates with Professor Alex O’Neill from the Faculty of Biological Sciences to conduct research in antimicrobial resistance. Her PhD is funded by the Indonesian Government.
Laurent said: “I am blessed for being one of the Indonesian students who receive the prestigious scholarship from our government, the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP Scholarship), to support my study.”
Tackling the antimicrobial resistance crisis
Laurent is investigating how novel antibiotics from unexplored ‘human skin Actinobacteria’ could be used to address antibiotic resistance. She explained more about why it is important to tackle the current crisis, and how her research could help contribute to scientific progress.
“Antibiotics have been miracle drugs for years to treat infectious diseases,” said Laurent. However, the misuse and overuse of antibiotics have led to the dramatic and continuing emergence of antibiotic resistance of the untreatable antibiotics-resistant bacteria or multidrug-resistant bacteria.
“In contrast, only few effective antibiotics have been discovered in the last 50 years. The unparalleled achievement in antibiotics discovery compared to the dramatic increase of antibiotic resistance have threatened modern health treatment.”
Laurent continued: “The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned us that the world is now facing a dangerous stage, namely a post-antibiotic era, in which people are prone to death simply due to common infections and minor injuries, unless another breakthrough is discovered. The urgent and emerging target of antibiotic discovery is the effective agents for gram-negative bacteria as recently recommended by the WHO.”
We hope to make a valuable contribution on the discovery of novel and effective broad-spectrum antibiotics from an unexplored source, such as human skin microbiome, to address the deadlock of the antibiotic resistance crisis.
She added: “We hope to make a valuable contribution on the discovery of novel and effective broad-spectrum antibiotics from an unexplored yet promising source of antibiotics, such as human skin microbiome, to address the deadlock of the antibiotic resistance crisis, both in Gram-positive and ultimately the Gram-negative bacteria.”
Supportive research community
Being part of a network of likeminded researchers has greatly enhanced Laurent’s experiences while studying at Leeds. She explained that encouragement from her supervisors and peers has added value to her studies.
Laurent said: “I am grateful for having Professor Chris Rayner as my main supervisor: I could not ask for a better guide. He is very nice, supportive and encouraging, and always makes time for me; even though he is very busy, arranging a supervision meeting has never been an issue. He also has taught me and encouraged me to learn synthetic chemistry, which is a new topic for me.”
I am grateful for having Professor Chris Rayner as my main supervisor: I could not ask for a better guide.
She continued: “As a result of his supervision and patience, I have enjoyed expanding my knowledge while exploring new topics. My second supervisor, Professor Alex O’Neill is also supportive and encouraging. I have learnt a lot from him and his group about antibiotics. We have been working together in great ways.”
Laurent added: “I enjoy being part of the research groups and am grateful for their support. Within Professor Rayner’s group itself, all of the members encourage each other, which results in an enjoyable atmosphere during the lab works.
“The weekly group meetings also provide great opportunity for each member to practice and develop their competence in presenting and disseminating their progress. It’s also a great opportunity to share and discuss knowledge and ideas, which are valuable in supporting our research.”
Laurent explained she has always dreamed of studying for a PhD. Due to its reputation, and the expertise of the academics, Leeds was an attractive choice. Prior to moving to Leeds, Laurent was a researcher within the Chemistry department at the State University of Malang, Indonesia. She continues to deliver lectures at the State University of Malang, and will return to the department as an early career after graduating from the University of Leeds.
“Pursuing PhD in one of the best universities in the world has always been one of my biggest dreams in life,” Laurent said. “Undoubtedly, University of Leeds is a perfect choice, as it is one of the top ten university in the UK, and one the best 100 universities in the world.”
Undoubtedly, University of Leeds is a perfect choice, as it is one of the top universities in the UK, and one the best 100 universities in the world.
She continued: “Research and innovation in the School of Chemistry has been world leading, specifically the ‘organic chemistry’ area. The expertise of Professor Chris Rayner has attracted and met my interest, specifically in the antibiotic discovery from natural products. The School is also equipped with many sophisticated facilities, such as a 600 MHz NMR spectroscopy machine, MS, and HPLC.”
She added: “I look forward to returning to the State University of Malang, where I will continue to develop as an early career researcher and lecturer. I will continue to build on the experiences and skills I have gained at Leeds, which will help to prime my career in academia and beyond.”