Dr Isabelle Pattis is a senior scientist and microbiologist in ESR’s Health and Environment group based in Christchurch.
Isabelle earned her PhD in microbial molecular biology at the University of Munich (LMU).
Isabelle's PhD in microbial molecular biology focused on virulence factors of the human stomach pathogen Helicobacter pylori. After working a few years in the pharmaceutical industry as a medical writer, Isabelle moved to New Zealand and joined ESR in 2013.
At ESR Isabelle leads and is involved in a variety of projects for the Ministry for Primary Industries and other clients, comprising food safety and microbial freshwater quality.
A large focus of Isabelle’s work is on environmental antimicrobial resistance (AMR), particularly in wastewater. Isabelle has a particular interest in the role of various wastewater streams, storm water and the receiving environmental waters in the transmission of AMR to humans and animals: Is AMR in the natural environment a risk to human and animal health? And how can we reduce the amount of resistant bacteria, resistance genes and antimicrobials entering the environment via various waste streams?
To answer these questions Isabelle and the team are working towards establishing and improving laboratory methods and bioinformatics to investigate AMR in raw and treated sewage, in municipal and on-site wastewater treatment systems, as well as in contaminated surface water. They isolate and characterise resistant bacteria and are using eDNA to investigate resistance genes and how these change through wastewater treatment and seasons.
Municipal wastewater provides the unique opportunity to monitor for AMR on a population-wide level without the necessity to sample individuals. Hospital wastewater on the other hand potentially enables the early detection of outbreaks of resistant bacteria within a hospital. Therefore, Isabelle is also interested in the potential use of metagenomics as a tool for AMR in wastewater monitoring.