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Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)


The deadline for booking a place on this course has passed. Please use the 'Ask a Question' button to register your interest in future or similar courses.

This course is part of the Summer Programme 2022.

To apply for this course, please enrol on the programme above, and then select the courses you wish to study. For more information about Summer Programmes please visit our Summer Programmes Page.

By pretty much any measure of success you care to apply, microbes are the dominant life-form on the planet; they have been around longer than anything else, they are more numerous than anything else, and they will likely be around long after everything else has disappeared. In fact, it is no understatement to say that we are guests in a microbial world. In this course, we'll explore what's out there, with a special focus on understanding better one particularly interesting class of microbes - the bacteria. Recent advances in so-called "culture-independent" approaches have revealed the true breadth of species out there, and it is now apparent that the bacterial gene pool is far larger than we thought even a decade or two ago. In this course, which would be suitable for an interested but non-expert audience, we'll be having a look at how our preconceptions about bacteria are changing as a result of new discoveries. We'll see how bacteria - once considered to be the archetypal "single-celled organisms" - actually have a thriving social life, and how this is tied in with the propensity of some species to cause disease. We'll also be having a look at how antibiotics work, and consider the problem of antimicrobial resistance. Your Course Director is Professor of Microbial Physiology and Metabolism at Cambridge and is unashamedly in love with these fascinating little organisms. He hopes that his enthusiasm for the subject will be.... "infectious"!

This course will be co-taught with Dr Ashraf Zarkan: 
Dr Zarkan (Ash) is a Transition To Independence Fellow (funded by the Rosetrees Trust, the Isaac Newton Trust, and the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Cambridge). He has a BSc in Pharmacy, an MSc in Medical Microbiology and a PhD in Biochemistry. Before starting his fellowship, he trained in the labs of Dr Hee-Jeon Hong, Prof Martin Welch and Prof George Salmond (as PhD 2012-2016, Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, UK) and Dr David Summers (as PostDoc 2016-2022, Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, UK). His specialisms in the Cambridge Infectious Diseases research team centre on pathogen biology and evolution, and drugs and vaccines. 


Course dates

10 Jul 2022 to 16 Jul 2022

Course duration

1 week

Apply by

26 Jun 2022

Course director


International Summer Programme
Sidgwick Site
United Kingdom

Qualifications / Credits

Credits dependent on home institution

Teaching sessions

Meetings: 5

Course code