Women in Phage — an initiative to encourage female phage scientists

Issue 93 | September 18, 2020
9 min read
Capsid and Tail

Women in Phage is a new initiative by Fatma Abdelrahman to unite and inspire female phage scientists. Image credit: Fatma Abdelrahman.

This week, Fatma Abdelrahman, a research assistant at Zewail City of Science and Technology in Egypt, announces the launch of her new initiative for supporting women who work with phage.

What’s New

Lorenz Leitner (Balgrist University Hospital, Switzerland) and colleagues published a new paper in The Lancet Infectious Diseases on the results of a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial to investigate intravesical phage therapy using the Eliava Institute’s Pyophage cocktail for UTIs in transurethral prostate resection patients. They showed non-inferiority and a favourable safety profile for the phage treatment compared to antibiotics, though phage was not superior to placebo bladder irrigation.

Clinical TrialPhage TherapyResearch paper

Tao Zuo (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) and collegues published a new paper in Cell Host & Microbe on the fecal DNA virome of 930 healthy adults from two regions in China spanning six ethnicities, including urban and rural residents. They found that geography had the strongest impact on gut virome variation, that ethnicity-distinct diets associated with viral species composition, that urbanization enhanced virome differences between individuals, and that the virome was more heterogeneous than the bacterial microbiome.

Gut viromeResearch paper

Jānis Rūmnieks (Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Center, Latvia) and colleagues published a new paper in Science Advances showing the 3D structure of 22 uncultured ssRNA phages.

Research paperStructural Biology

Kaat Schroven (KU Leuven, Belgium) and colleagues published a new review in FEMS Microbiology Reviews on phages as drivers of bacterial virulence and their potential for biotechnological exploitation.

Phage-host interactionsReview

Alejandro González-Mora (Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico) and colleagues published a new review in Vaccines on phage-based vaccines for antigen delivery.

Phage-based vaccinesReview

Latest Jobs

Post Doc
A post-doctoral fellow position has opened in the Moineau group (Université Laval, Canada) to work on Salmonella phages, in collaboration with researchers in Kenya. See also: Youtube. The position is for at least 15 months, with an additional year very likely. If interested, please send your CV to Sylvain Moineau.
PhD projectPhage TherapyVeterinary medicine
The Niu lab at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine has an opening for a graduate student to study phage-host interactions and antimicrobial synergy using animal models.
Clinical TrialPhage TherapyScientist
PhagePro is looking for a Scientist I to participate in our research on our cholera phage cocktail as we prepare for clinical trials. The position is located at PhagePro’s lab space at the Tufts Launchpad in Boston, MA. Please visit our website www.phageproinc.com to see the full job description. We look forward to hearing from you!
Phage TherapyResearch Scientist
Intralytix, Inc (Columbia, Maryland) is hiring a research scientist to participate in various research projects focused on the development of phage-based products, with a focus on human health applications.
Gut phageResearch Assistant
The Hill lab at APC Microbiome Ireland and University College Cork is hiring two research assistants to explore the role of phages in shaping the human gut microbiome and explore their potential as therapeutic agents.
PhD projectWater treatment
The Bandyopadhyay lab at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Trondheim, Norway) has an open PhD fellowship. This project aims at designing artificial nanoparticles as an index for phage MS2, E. coli WR1 and organic micro pollutants.
Lab Manager
The School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, Scotland) is hiring a Biolab Manager to manage the School’s microbiological laboratory facility, including research projects encompassing bacteriophage, proteins, anaerobic culture of bacteria, tissue culture and several industrial collaborations.
Phage-host interactionsResearch Associate
The Paterson lab at the University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, Scotland) is hiring a research associate to lead laboratory work investigating Staphylococcus pseudintermedius bacterial-phage interactions and bacterial disease pathogenesis.
Molecular BiologyResearch Technician
Chr. Hansen (Hørsholm, Denmark) is hiring a research technician to perform experimental work focused on natural strain improvement of industrial Bacillus strains (and other Gram positives) using different microbiology, biochemical and molecular biology methods.
Kelly Services France is hiring a senior quality control technologist. The candidate will be setting-up, fine-tuning, validating and executing assays for analysis, stability, and release of raw materials and biological products such as phages.

Community Board

Anyone can post a message to the phage community — and it could be anything from collaboration requests, post-doc searches, sequencing help — just ask!

The next rendition of PHAVES will be a seminar with Dr. Panos Kalatzis (University of Copenhagen) on Sept 22 at 11:00 AM Eastern / 5:00 PM (GMT+2). Panos will tell us about the potential of phage therapy in aquaculture. Small group networking to follow! Learn more & register here!

PHAVESVirtual Event

Hello fellow phage workers - are you modifying phages, genetically or chemically, to improve their ability to act as therapeutics? Attaching toxins so the phage capsid provides specificity to target bacteria? Creating phage based vaccines? If you are making modified phages for treatments, please consider contributing to a special issue of Pharmaceuticals titled “Bacteriophages as Therapeutic Delivery Vehicles” edited by Paul Hyman ([email protected]), Tina Schneider ([email protected]), and Bryan Gibb ([email protected]). Contact us for more information or check the special issue home page.

Special Issue

Hi everybody, would anyone be kind enough to share bacterial strain BLT5403? It’s part of Novagen’s T7 phage kit. Unfortunately it didn’t make the move with me and I don’t want to buy a whole kit to just get the bacteria. — @Kean_Research via Twitter

Strain request

The longest river of India, the Ganges, is reported for the richest diversity of bacteriophages compared to any other river across the globe. This diversity was formed when bacteriophages were trapped at the origin of the river millions of years ago because of the collision of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates. This resulted in the buildup of the Himalayas (Mountains) and as a seed source of bacteriophages which is continuously releasing them in the river water. I have isolated more than 30 different phage cocktails and various different bacterial hosts that are under investigation. The river Ganges is also known as a holy river of India since the times of British India due to its high antibacterial property. In the coming future, river Ganges may serve the purpose of the biggest and could be a source of novel bacteriophages. I am tweeting at @Atif_micro.

Community messageNew sources of phages

Women in Phage — an initiative to encourage female phage scientists

Profile Image
Center for Microbiology and Phage Therapy, Zewail City of Science and Technology, 6th of October City, Egypt

Biotechnology, Molecular Biology, Phage isolation, Phage Therapy, Phage-host interactions, Undergraduate research

Research assistant, junior phage researcher, and Master student at the center for Microbiology and phage biology, Zewail city of science and technology, Egypt. I’m so interested in bacteriophages, and phage derived enzymes such as endolysins and lysozymes, and I have chosen those topics to be my future research area.

Research interests:
-Antibiotics Resistance and bacterial pathogenesis, identification of antibiotic resistance
-Phage Therapy: isolation and therapeutic characterization of bacteriophages and phage derived enzymes as a novel antimicrobial agent, which represents an alternative approach to antibiotics.

About the founder

My name is Fatma Abdelrahman, and I like to believe I’m one of the biggest bacteriophage enthusiasts out there. Ever since I was a university student, I was utterly fascinated by the way phages function in their perpetual war against bacteria. From then, I devoted my time and efforts to becoming a bacteriophage researcher. This dream was finally realized in 2018 when I was accepted to work in the center for microbiology and phage therapy at Zewail City of Science and Technology in Egypt.

In 2019 I finally got to publish my first paper, Encapsulation of E. coli phage ZCEC5 in chitosan–alginate beads as a delivery system in phage therapy, and it remains one of my most treasured moments.

However, my passion for the field didn’t cease there, I wanted to kickstart something that would unite phage scientists and inspire them, and thus Women in Phage was born.

Our motivation

Did you know that female Nobel Prize winners in scientific fields only comprise 3% of all winners?

Let that sink in.

We all have witnessed the disparities between males and females in the STEM world — more specifically in research. This gap has been slowly mending over the past decade, yet it still needs to be addressed. A platform where female phage researchers can share their stories and experiences will be beneficial in inspiring the youngsters to pursue this field.

I aspired to create a community where all phage scientists — and particularly female scientists — can gather to discuss findings and navigate through these promising areas. Starting from creating a page on various social media platforms, I aim to create a proper website for Women in Phage and launch officially as soon as the opportunity presents itself.


In this dark era of antibiotic resistance, bacteria have evolved to resist all sorts of medications. Phage therapy presents a promising solution to this critical issue. However, despite the early successes, there is a long way to go.


A long term goal of mine is to implement a platform that wouldn’t merely be a safe haven for scientists but also pave the way for microbiology undergraduate students with an avid interest in the field by connecting them with researchers and professors from all over the globe. Bi-yearly conferences will be arranged so that avid researchers can collaborate more effectively. Regular webinars will be held to debate about research procedures and discuss the latest publications.
I plan to collaborate with a number of inspiring organizations such as Phage Directory, and if you are interested in joining this diverse group of women then contact us at [email protected].

Contact us

[email protected]

Twitter: @women_in_phage

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WomenInPhage/

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In collaboration with

Mary Ann Liebert PHAGE

Supported by

Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

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