Stephanie Schuller


  • 2.28 Bob Champion Research & Education Bldg

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Personal profile

Academic Background

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

Administrative Posts

  • Personal Adviser to MBBS students
  • MBBS admission interviews


I always had a keen interest in the interactions between human pathogenic bacteria 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 enteropathogenic (EPEC) and enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) 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 EPEC- and EHEC-mediated signal transduction in intestinal epithelial cells and the subsequent innate immune response. A successful Wellcome Trust project grant also led to the development and application of a microaerobic in vitro human intestinal infection model which enabled me to study the influence of oxygen on bacterial virulence gene expression. In 2010, I moved to Norwich where I took up a lecturer position at the Norwich Medical School, UEA and became a Research Leader within in Gut Health & Food Safety Programme at the Institute of Food Research. In 2012, I was awarded an MRC New Investigator Research Grant to study EHEC Shiga toxin translocation across the gut epithelium.


Lecturer, University of East Anglia, Oct 2010-present
Research Associate, University College London, 2001–2010
Research Associate, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, 1999-2001
Research Associate, Imperial College London, 1997-1999

External Activities

  • External PhD examiner (Edinburgh, Imperial College, York)
  • External examiner of EuroMasters course Medical Microbiology, University of Surrey
  • Member of the Microbiology Society
  • Contributor of scientific images to the Science Photo Library

Key Research Interests

Escherichia coli is usually known as a harmless commensal bacterium in the human gut. However, several subsets of E. coli (pathotypes) have acquired genetic elements which make them pathogenic to humans. Research in our laboratory is focused on how certain E. coli pathotypes adhere to and hijack the cells in the human intestinal epithelium and thereby cause diarrhoea and severe systemic disease. In particular, we are interested in enteropathogenic (EPEC), enterohaemorrhagic (EHEC), and enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) which are major 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.

Research in our laboratory aims at understanding bacteria-host interactions by using in vitro and ex vivo model systems that closely mimic the environment in the human gut. In collaboration with gastroenterologists at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, we are using in vitro organ culture of human intestinal biopsies to investigate bacterial colonisation and gene expression, host innate immune responses to infection and the use of probiotics as treatment strategies. In addition, we have established a vertical diffusion chamber (VDC) system which enables us to perform infections under microaerobic conditions similar to those in the human gut. This model allows us to understand the influence of oxygen on bacterial virulence gene expression and pathogenesis. In addition, we can culture oxygen-sensitive gut commensal bacteria in the VDC, and thereby investigate the cross-talk between intestinal epithelium, pathogenic E. coli and the gut microbiota.


Research Keywords & Postgraduate Research Student Supervision

Pathogenic E. coli (EAEC, EHEC, EPEC)

Bacteria-host interactions

Human intestine

Virulence gene expression

Advanced infection models

Gut microbiota

Areas of Expertise

Bacterial infections of the human GI tract, esp. enterohaemorrhagic (EHEC) and enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC).

Teaching Interests

MBBS Immunology theme lead

Foundation year and year 1 SSS tutor in Microbiology & Immunology

Year 2 PBL tutor

Supervision of BSc, MSc and PhD research students

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


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