• Room 02.021 - Pharmacy & MCI

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

A range of PhD projects are available within our group focusing on the improved detection and treatment of chronic respiratory infection and development of molecular diagnostic assays.

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Personal profile

Research Statement

I hold a Chair in Clinical Pharmacy and am the Director of Research at the School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast. I have an international track record in lung microbiome research with my translational research programme focusing primarily on the improved detection and treatment of lung infection in patients with respiratory diseases such as cystic fibrosis (CF), non-CF bronchiectasis and COPD.  I have published over 100 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and serves on a number of scientific advisory boards as well as editorial boards.

I lead a multidisciplinary team of research staff including pharmacists, microbiologists and clinicians. My laboratory is a world class centre of excellence which aims to develop the next generation of treatments, diagnostic tools and standards of care in order to alleviate or cure respiratory infection.

All staff and students in my team are dedicated to working together to push the boundaries of scientific and clinical discovery. Our goal is to translate these advances into new clinical and therapeutic approaches that will ultimately improve the lives of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) and other respiratory diseases.

Research in my group is focused primarily on the improved detection and treatment of lung infection in patients with respiratory diseases such as cystic fibrosis (CF), non-CF bronchiectasis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Microbiome analysis is performed, using both enhanced aerobic and anaerobic culture techniques and non-culture based next- generation sequencing, on samples from patients with CF, bronchiectasis, COPD and primary immune deficiency. Using these techniques, we have identified that a much wider range of bacteria may cause respiratory infection in patients with these diseases than was previously thought. We have also discovered that bacteria which do not require oxygen to live may be present in the airways.


My team’s current research programme is designed to:

• Establish the role of these organisms in causing infection and damage in the lungs of patients with respiratory disease

• Determine why these bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics used to treat infection

• Evaluate the efficacy of antibiotics and other agents under low oxygen conditions which mimic conditions in the lung and;

• Examine whether changes in antibiotic treatment to target a wider range of bacteria present in the lungs result in improved clinical outcomes for patients

Our group are also leading a €50 million, 5-year Europe-wide, Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) funded project to develop new drugs that could improve the lives of patients with CF and bronchiectasis. The iABC (inhaled Antibiotics in Bronchiectasis and Cystic Fibrosis) consortium, which is made up of industry partners Novartis and Polyphor and world-leading lung specialists from across Europe, will develop new ‘inhaled antibiotics’ to manage chronic lung infection, the main cause of disease and death in patients with these conditions.

Watch more about my research on this video.

Research Statement






Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Michael Tunney is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

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Projects 2010 2020

Research Output 1996 2020

Home Care Services
Randomized Controlled Trials
Guideline Adherence
Research Personnel
1 Citation (Scopus)
103 Downloads (Pure)

A general protein O-glycosylation machinery conserved in Burkholderia species improves bacterial fitness and elicits glycan immunogenicity in humans

Mohamed, Y. F., Scott, N. E., Molinaro, A., Creuzenet, C., Ortega, X., Lertmemongkolchai, G., Tunney, M. M., Green, H., Jones, A. M., DeShazer, D., Currie, B. J., Foster, L. J., Ingram, R., De Castro, C. & Valvano, M. A., 26 Jul 2019, In : The Journal of biological chemistry.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Burkholderia cenocepacia
13 Citations (Scopus)

Antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) and associated clinical outcomes in individuals with cystic fibrosis: A systematic review

on behalf of the Antimicrobial Resistance in Cystic Fibrosis InternationalWorking Group, Mar 2019, In : Journal of Cystic Fibrosis. 18, 2, p. 236-243 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Cystic Fibrosis
Bacterial Infections
2 Citations (Scopus)
Cystic Fibrosis
Logistic Models
24 Citations (Scopus)

British thoracic society guideline for bronchiectasis in adults

Hill, A. T., Sullivan, A. L., Chalmers, J. D., De Soyza, A., Stuart Elborn, J., Andres Floto, R., Grillo, L., Gruffydd-Jones, K., Harvey, A., Haworth, C. S., Hiscocks, E., Hurst, J. R., Johnson, C., Peter Kelleher, W., Bedi, P., Payne, K., Saleh, H., Screaton, N. J., Smith, M., Tunney, M. & 3 others, Whitters, D., Wilson, R. & Loebinger, M. R., 01 Jan 2019, In : Thorax. 74, 74.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Open Access

Activities 2003 2003

  • 1 Membership of external research organisation

Higher Education Academy (External organisation)

Michael Tunney (Member)
2003 → …

Activity: Membership typesMembership of external research organisation