NIOM is happy to announce that Maria Pain from the University of Tromsø has become the institute’s leading microbiologist. Pain has a Ph.D. in microbiology, and a M.Sc. in medical biology. Her focus, through work and study, has been the interaction between bacteria and their host.

– I’ve always been interested in how to prevent infection and disease, by understanding more of the bacteria’s arsenal of disease promoting properties, as well as the bacteria’s ability to avoid detection from the immune system, Pain says.

Hospital bacteria

Her previous job was as a post-graduate scientist at the University of Tromsø. There she studied how bacteria adapt to the environment in hospitals.

– Our aim was to discover new strategies for treatment of infections of multi-resistant and biofilm-producing bacteria, she explains.

As part of the research, she discovered a new species of staphylococcus in humans. It was named Staphylococcus borealis.

The oral biofilm

– It was this research that got me interested in oral bacteria. I have always been interested in biofilm, and the oral cavity is the perfect environment to explore biofilm processes. Biofilms are wonderfully complex systems, where both microbial communication and the exchange of genetic material frequently occurs.

As a NIOM scientist, Pain will get a chance to work with experts from a variety of fields. Some are in-house colleagues, others will be guest researchers or collaborators.

– My first impression of NIOM’s people and surroundings has been great. I enjoy working in a talented and experienced multidisciplinary environment. I believe it will be an ideal environment for professional growth, Pain says.