James Butler

James Butler

Research Associate in Microbiology

School of Biomedical Sciences (Faculty of Health)



I am a Research Associate in Microbiology working with Prof Mat Upton on development of attenuated bovine herpesvirus-4 as a safe, inexpensive, single dose vaccine to control Streptococcus suis infection in domestic pigs. This project is funded by Innovate UK and is collaborative between the UK and China. I am a member of the Antibiotic Resistant Pathogens Research Group.

Prior to my current post, I was a PhD student in microbiology and nanomaterials, developing a novel silver nanocoating for application to hospital wastewater plumbing systems as a means to prevent biofilm formation and reduce nosocomial infections.


2018-present PhD in Microbiology and Nanomaterials, University of Plymouth.
2017-2018 MSc Biomedical Science (Immunology), achieved Distinction, University of Plymouth.
2014-2017 BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science, achieved 2:1, University of Plymouth.

Professional membership

  • Member of Microbiology Society.
  • Member of Society for Applied Microbiology.
  • Member of British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.
  • Member of Royal Society of Biology (MRSB).



Teaching interests

  • Between 2018-2022, I have had teaching and demonstrating roles on the modules BHCS1006 Infection & Immunity, BHCS1001 Biomedical Investigation and Experimentation, BIOM5005 Project Design and Development, BHCS2027 Placements and Employability, BHCS2006 Infection, Immunity and Disease, and BHCS001 Infection, Immunity and Therapeutics. Together, these modules span the range of teaching in Biomedical Sciences at the University, from foundation students, through first and second year undergraduates, up to masters-level.
  • I have completed the 'Supporting Assessment, Learning & Teaching' (SALT) workshop (November 2018).
  • I have previous experience as a PALS (Peer-Assisted Learning Scheme) Leader and Senior Leader (2015-2017).



Research interests

My interests are in infection, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and strategies to combat it. I am a proponent of the 'One Health' approach to AMR which addresses the problem through a holistic and multisectoral viewpoint, bringing in considerations of humans, animals, and the environment. My PhD project, developing antimicrobial nanocoatings to reduce nosocomial infections, focussed on the environmental side of AMR. My current project, developing novel vaccines against Streptococcus suis, focusses on the animal side of AMR. By reducing antibiotic usage, breaking the chain of transmission, and developing novel antimicrobials, it may still be possible to reverse our movement towards a 'pre-antibiotic' era.

Other research

I have previously completed the following research projects:

  • "Live and heat-killed lactobacilli and their DNA modulate pro-inflammatory cytokine responses in differentiated macrophages" with Dr Andrew Foey (MSc project; 2017-2018).
  • "Investigating mosaic tetracycline resistance genes with further analysis of a potentially novel mosaic" with Dr Philip Warburton (undergraduate dissertation project; 2016-2017)
  • "How do neural stem cells wake up? An investigation of potentially involved molecular signals" with Dr Claudia Barros (Summer research studentship; 2015).



Key publications

Key publications are highlighted


Butler J, Kelly SD, Muddiman KJ, Besinis A & Upton M (2022) 'Hospital sink traps as a potential source of the emerging multidrug-resistant pathogen Cupriavidus pauculus: characterization and draft genome sequence of strain MF1' Journal of Medical Microbiology 71, (2) , DOI Open access


Other academic activities

Additional information

  • Senior Fire Marshal for the Derriford Research Facility and John Bull Building, along with Dr Paul Waines.