Microbiologist and trained veterinarian Dr. Irem Omurtag Korkmaz is researching natural antibiotic alternatives in the animal industry. She explains how multidisciplinary collaboration has helped broaden her scientific understanding.
I am currently studying the function of natural antimicrobials against pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria, specifically those found in animal products. Using plating methods and genetic testing, I can measure the bacterial reactions to different antibacterial molecules. My ultimate goal is to contribute to the discovery of natural antimicrobials and reduce the use of antibiotics and synthetic disinfectants in the animal industry.
Antibiotic use in livestock greatly exceeds that in humans, as we rely on these medicines to improve animal health and productivity. However, excessive use of antibiotics has increasingly led to the evolution of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, which is one of the largest threats to global health. By developing new, natural antibacterials which are as effective as possible, we can enhance livestock conditions while minimizing the threat of resistance.
To achieve this goal, we need researchers from various fields of scientific study to come together, including environmental science, microbiology and chemistry. Working with my sister, a research chemist, has given me an invaluable insight into cell biology and biochemical reactions. Her oversight has helped me unravel the relationship between bacterial cells and exposed materials, and she continues to inspire my research.
Q: What kind of mindset do you need to achieve the Next Great Impossible?
A: Whether it’s working with the microbiologists within my lab or collaborating with researchers from other scientific disciplines, the success of my research hinges on teamwork.