BSc (Otago) Microbiology, MSc (Otago) Microbiology, PhD (Queensland) Genetics, MSc (Manchester) Bioinformatics.
Associate Professor
3365 4863

Scott Beatson obtained a PhD in 2002 for his work on Pseudomonas aeruginosa genomics and pathogenesis with Prof John Mattick and Dr Cynthia Whitchurch at The University of Queensland. Previously he completed a BSc and MSc in Microbiology at the University of Otago, New Zealand. As a postdoctoral researcher he was awarded fellowships to study genomics at the University of Oxford (UK) with Prof Chris Ponting and at the University of Birmingham (UK) with Prof Mark Pallen. Since returning to The University of Queensland in 2006 as a NHMRC Howard Florey Fellow he has combined his interests in genomics and bacterial infectious diseases to establish a research group in the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences. 

Brief Research Description: 
Molecular pathogenomics
Research Focus and Collaborations: 

The Beatson group aims to better understand the molecular mechanisms of infectious disease and identify potential therapeutic and diagnostic targets by exploiting “Next-gen” genomic data. A major focus of the group is the comparative analysis of genomes obtained from local clinical isolates of important human pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococci, Streptococci, Legionella pneumophila and Acinetobacter baumannii. In particular, the group is interested in the evolution and mobility of genes encoding virulence factors that are widely conserved amongst bacterial pathogens (e.g. fimbriae, pili and type III and type IV secretion systems and secreted effectors). World-wide there are thousands of bacterial genome and meta-genome projects in progress, but the bottle-neck remains data analysis. A major priority in the group is the development of bioinformatics software to effectively utilize Next-gen sequence data.

Current projects range from researching fundamental questions such as “how has Escherichia coli pathogenesis evolved?” and "how are genes transferred between bacteria?" to the identification of potential diagnostic and vaccine targets and the development of software tools to enable integrated analysis of 100’s or 1000’s of bacterial genomes.


National: Prof Mark Schembri (UQ), Prof Mark Walker (UQ), A/Prof Andrew Barnes (UQ), Dr Mark Turner (UQ), A/Prof Glen Ulett (Griffith), Dr Kari Gobius (CSIRO), Prof David Paterson (UQ), A/Prof Scott Bell (QHealth), A/Prof Claire Wainwright (QHealth), Prof Elizabeth Hartland (UMel).

International: Dr Mat Upton (Manchester), Prof David Gally (Edinburgh), Dr Andrew Roe (Glasgow), Prof Tim Walsh (Cardiff), Prof Ian Henderson (Birmingham), Dr Kok Gan Chan (Malaysia)

Example projects:

  • Developing software for Next-Gen bacterial genome and meta-genome assembly, annotation and analysis

  • PacBio sequencing of antiboitic resistance plasmids

  • Genomic epidemiology: investigating outbreaks using genome sequencing

  • Reverse vaccinology: identifying candidate bacterial vaccine candidates

  • Investigating the role of bacteriophage in mobilizing virulence genes

Funded Projects: 

NHMRC Career Development Fellowship 2015-2018

"Bacterial Pathogenomics: whole-genome sequencing to investigate
infection transmission, pathogenesis and antibiotic resistance"

NHMRC Project Grant 2014-2017 ($793,056).

Mark Schembri, Scott Beatson.

"1067455: Functional and genomic analysis of the globally disseminated multidrug
resistant Escherichia coli ST131 clone"

NHMRC Project Grant 2012-2014 ($622,350).

Mark Schembri, Tim Walsh, Scott Beatson.

“1033799: Evolution and pathogenicity of NDM-1 positive Escherichia coli

Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage grant 2011-2013 ($333,000).

Mark Turner, Scott Beatson, Ian Godwin, Ian Powell.

“LP120100282: Smarter fermentations through starter culture genomics”

NHMRC Project Grant 2011-2013 ($555,000).

Mark Schembri, Scott Beatson.

“1012076: Escherichia coli ST131: an emerging pathogen”

ARC Discovery Project Grant and Australian Research Fellowship ($503,686).

Scott Beatson.

"DP0881347: The evolution of bacterial pathogenesis: a genomic approach"

  • BIOL3004:    Genomics and Bioinformatics (Coordinator)
  • BIOC6020:    Bioinformatics for Molecular Biologists (Coordinator)
  • BINF7001:    Advanced genome informatics (Coordinator)

I was appointed as a senior lecturer in 2008. I have taught a variety of courses in microbiology, bioinformatics and genomics.

Significant Professional Activities and Awards: 

2008: ARC Australian Research Fellowship.

2006: Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Howard Florey Centenary Fellowship.

2003: Medical Research Council (UK) Special Fellowship in Bioinformatics.

2001: Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Fellowship.


Associate editor BMC Genomics

Associate editor Microbiology Open

2012-2013:      Bacpath 2013 local organizing committee member.

2008-2011:      Lorne Genomes conference organizing committee.

2009-2011:      Australian Society for Microbiology Queensland Branch ex-officio member.

Current Group Members:

Dr Nouri Ben Zakour Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Mitchell Stanton-Cook BioIT specialist

Dr Brian Forde Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Kirstin Hanks-Thomson PhD candidate

Nabil Alikhan PhD candidate

Mitchell Sullivan PhD candidate

Bryan Wee PhD candidate

Leah Roberts Honours

Areej Alsheikh PhD candidate

Nhu Nguyen PhD candidate

Melinda Ashcroft PhD candidate

Former Group Members:

Nathan Bachmann PhD, graduated Nov 2013

Nicola Petty Postdoctoral fellow

Jan Szubert Postdoctoral fellow


Selected Publications: