Kelly Wyres


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Personal profile


I am an NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow based in the Department of Infectious Diseases, where I co-lead the Fundamental Microbial Genomics research program. I use comparative genomics techniques and metabolic modelling to investigate the diversity of Klebsiella pneumoniae, a bacterium that causes large numbers of hospital-associated infections with high rates of drug resistance. I am particularly interested in diversity of surface antigens (targets for novel anti-Klebsiella vaccines and phage therapies), as well as the features and evolution of closely related groups of K. pneumoniae, called ‘clones,’ that seem to be associated with distinct behaviours and clinical risks (e.g. some are particularly good at becoming drug-resistant while others are particularly virulent).

I am a co-developer of Kaptive and Kaptive Web (tools for identification of Klebsiella surface polysaccharide loci in whole genome sequence data) and Kleborate a comprehensive K. pneumoniae genotyping tool, which are used by research and public health labs globally. My team has also recently developed Bactabolize, a tool for rapid generation of strain-specific metabolic models and growth phenotype predictions from genome assemblies, which we are applying to understand how K. pneumoniae metabolic diversity is associated with ecology and clinical risk.

I am a direct contributor to the KlebNET-GSP project (Klebsiella genomic surveillance platform), which aims to implement accessible and harmonised tools that support global genomic surveillance for K. pneumoniae and closely related species. As part of this work, I chair the Epidemiology Working Group, comprising colleagues from around the globe working to build a genomically-informed K. pneumoniae clone risk framework.

My prior experience includes 2 ½ years as a Staff Researcher at IBM Research – Australia where I was a founding member of the IBM Research – Australia Genomics Team and later became the Team Lead. My team was interested in exploring the use of computing for clinical and public health genomics. We collaborated with colleagues around the world and contributed to a number of applied and pure research projects, including an evolutionary exploration of drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB.

Before moving to Australia and joining IBM I completed my Bachelor’s and Doctoral degrees at the University of Oxford, UK. During my doctoral degree, I studied the genomic evolution of another important disease-causing bacterium, Streptococcus pneumoniae. I focused on the evolution of penicillin resistance and capsule switching, which is important for vaccine design.

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

Education/Academic qualification

Zoology, DPhil, Genome evolution of Streptococcus pneumoniae, University of Oxford

Jan 2009Sept 2012

Award Date: 8 Mar 2014

BA (Hons) Oxon Biological Sciences, University of Oxford

Oct 2004Jun 2007

Award Date: 15 Sept 2007

External positions

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Melbourne

Sept 2015Dec 2018

Staff Researcher & Genomics Team Lead, IBM Research (Australia)

Jan 2015Sept 2015

Staff Researcher, IBM Research (Australia)

Feb 2013Dec 2014

DPhil Candidate, University of Oxford

Jan 2009Sept 2012

Laboratory Technician, University of Oxford

Oct 2007Dec 2008

Research area keywords

  • Comparative genomics
  • Metabolic modelling
  • Microbial genomics
  • Kelbsiella pneumoniae
  • Clinical genomics
  • Public health genomics
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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