Stephanie Schuller


  • 2.28 Bob Champion Research & Education Bldg

Personal profile

Academic Background

PhD, University of Würzburg, Germany, 1997
Diplom, University of Marburg, Germany, 1994


  • Associate Professor, University of East Anglia, since Aug 2022
  • Lecturer, University of East Anglia, Oct 2010-Jul 2022
  • Research Associate, University College London, 2001–2010
  • Research Associate, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, 1999-2001
  • Research Associate, Imperial College London, 1997-1999


I always had a keen interest in the interactions between "bad bugs" and their (unfortunate) hosts. After studying Biology at the universities of Bonn and Marburg in Germany, I finished my undergraduate studies with a one year diploma thesis on the gut pathogen Listeria monocytogenes in the laboratory of Prof Werner Goebel at the University of Würzburg. I stayed on for my PhD thesis where I investigated how Listeria modulates the macrophage immune response with particular interest on antigen presentation. After completion of my PhD I went to the UK to study the interactions of Mycobacterium bovis BCG with human macrophages and investigate the characteristics of the Mycobacterium-containing phagosome. This work was performed in the group of Prof Douglas Young and financed by a Marie Curie Fellowship. The final part of the project was completed at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam where I was hosted in the lab of Prof Jacques Neefjes. In 2001, I returned to London (and the human gut) and took up work with Prof Alan Phillips at the Royal Free Medical School at UCL. As it turned out, this was the start of a long-lasting relationship with pathogenic E. coli and involved many productive collaborations with leading scientists in the area. Particular areas of research included the application of in vitro organ culture of human intestinal biopsies to study how E. coli manipulates intestinal epithelial cells by injection of bacterial proteins. A successful Wellcome Trust project grant led to the development of a microaerobic Vertical Diffusion Chamber (VDC) model which allows culture of host cells with bacteria under low oxygen conditions. In 2010, I moved to Norwich where I took up a lecturer position at the Norwich Medical School, UEA and established my own research group funded by an MRC New Investigator Research Grant.

Key Research Interests

Escherichia coli is commonly known as a harmless commensal bacterium in our gut. However, some subsets of E. coli (pathotypes) have acquired genetic elements which render them pathogenic to humans. Research in our laboratory is focused on how pathogenic E. coli hijack the cells in the human intestinal mucosa and cause disease. In particular, we are interested in enteropathogenic (EPEC), enterohaemorrhagic (EHEC), and enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) which are foodborne pathogens of worldwide importance: While EPEC is a major cause of infant diarrhoea in developing countries, EHEC is associated with bloody diarrhoea and severe kidney disease (Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome/HUS) in children in the developed world. EAEC represent a more heterogenous group responsible for persistent infantile diarrhoea in the developing world, traveller’s diarrhoea in adults, and enteric infections in HIV-patients. In addition, we have recently started to elucidate the role of adherent-invasive E. coli (AIEC) in Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting more than 120,000 people in the UK.

Research in our laboratory aims at understanding molecular bacteria-host interactions under conditions similar to those in the human gut. This includes the presence of low oxygen levels, mucus and the microbiome. To achieve this, we use differentiated human colon cancer cell lines, stem cell-derived intestinal organoids, organ culture of intestinal biopsies and a microaerobic microbe-host co-culture system (VDC) as experimental models.

Postgraduate Research Opportunities

I'm very happy to supervise MSc, MRes and PhD projects. Please drop me an email if you're interested.

Research grants & studentships

NBI Grand Challenges fund (£15,400), Oct 2022-Mar 2023, Development of a human intestinal organoid model to elucidate microbiota-epithelium interactions in inflammatory bowel disease.

UEA FMH PhD studentship 2021-2025, Bethan Evans, Determining the role of adherent-invasive E. coli in Crohn’s disease – cause or consequence?

BBSRC DTP PhD studentship 2017-2021, Conor McGrath, Influence of commensal gut symbionts on intestinal infection with enteropathogenic E. coli.

BBSRC Project Grant (PI David Gally, £421,490), 2017-2020, Machine-learning to predict and understand the zoonotic threat of E. coli O157 isolates.

BBSRC DTP PhD studentship 2016-2020, Daniel Yara, Regulation and function of outer membrane vesicles from enterohaemorrhagic E. coli in different habitats.

BBSRC DTP PhD studentship 2014-2018, Samuel Ellis, Adaptation of enteroaggregative E. coli in the human gut.

IFR Year-In-Industry studentship 2014-2015, Claire Hews, The effect of enterohaemorrhagic E. coli infection on mucus expression in the human gut.

MRC New Investigator Research Grant (PI, £404,827) 2012-2015, Seav-ly Tran, Shiga toxin translocation across human intestinal epithelium in a microaerobic infection model.

UEA FMH PhD studentship 2012-2016, Alistair Walsham, Determining the protective effects of Lactobacillus reuteri against Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli infection.

UEA FMH PhD studentship 2011-2015, Steven Lewis, Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli colonisation of the human colonic epithelium and the innate immune response to infection

Teaching Interests

  • MBBS Immunology theme lead
  • SSC Microbiology & Immunology lead
  • SSC tutor for Year 1 and Gateway Year
  • PBL tutor

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


  • Microbiology
  • Microbe-host interactions
  • E. coli
  • Microbiome
  • Cardiometabolic and Gut Health
  • IBD
  • Infectious diarrhoea
  • Intestinal organoids
  • Immunology
  • Innate immune response

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or