About me

José A. Bengochea, received training in Bacterial Pathogenesis as a PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Ignacio Moriyón and Prof. Ramón Díaz (University of Navarra, Spain). For my Thesis project, I struggled to find out whether there is a correlation between virulence and the properties of the bacterial surface. 

Then I moved to Finland to start a postdoc in Prof. Mikael Skurnik´s lab (University of Turku currently at University of Helsinki, Finland). My goal was to learn state-of-the-art bacterial genetics and publish as many papers as possible. The scientific goal was to unravel how environmental signals likely to be found inside the human host affect the bacterial surface. In addition, we applied our knowledge to construct a set of attenuated strains suitable to create vaccines in a very simple way.  

After 5 great years, in 2002 I moved to Palma Mallorca (Spain) after obtaining a "Miguel Servet" contract, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Health. This tenured-track position targeted promising young scientist to increase the critical mass and the quality of the science carried out at hospitals. I met excelent MDs and also oriented my research plans with a "clinical flavour" to get closer to real clinical problems. 

At the same time, I was building up my research gorup. A very tough time that I enjoyed a lot!! In 2006, I got tenured (I3 Programme, Spanish Ministry of Science) and one year later I obtained a position as associate Prof (with tenured) of Microbial Pathogenesis in the Spanish Resarch Council (CSIC). 

After 12 years in Spain, I decided the time was ripe to find new challenges in a more competitive researech environement, with a stronger finantial aid structure, and with larger development possibilities. Therefore, I accepted an offer from Queen's University Belfast to a Chair of Molecular Microbiology, based at the Centre for Infection and Immunity. The Centre does offer a unique opportunity to conduct inter-disciplinary research of excellence with the final goal of translating basic research into treatments for infectious diseases in a collaborative way between basic and clinical scientists. My research programme certainly complements the ongoing research programmes of the centre focusing on respiratory, infectious and autoimmune disease, and cellular immunology but, importantly, it gives strength to the thematic are of microbial pathogenesis. In turn, my research will greatly benefit from the interaction with clinical discovery programmes which will facilitate the translation of my basic research discoveries to pre-clinical trials.

Today, the lab is a bunch of passionate people from six nationalities aiming to develop an internationally recognized research agenda. Our research program provides an excellent environment for learning and discovery in cutting edge research areas of infection biology such as host responses to pathogens, bacteria adaptations to the host and regulation of the expression of virulence factors. We are particularly interested in crossing the boundaries of research disciplines and hot areas for us are epigenetics, virology, physics, and systems biology.