Research Fellow
Biofilm Biology cluster, SCELSE/Wallenberg-NTU Postdoctoral Fellow

Haris Antypas is a Wallenberg-NTU Research Fellow in the research team of A/Prof. Kimberly Kline in Biofilm Biology cluster at the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Science Engineering (SCELSE) at NTU. His main focus is investigating the mechanistic details of medical biofilms to develop novel diagnostic and treatment approaches.

After completing his undergraduate studies in Biology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece, Haris moved to Sweden where he obtained master’s and doctoral degrees from Karolinska Institutet. As a doctoral student at the Swedish Medical Nanoscience Center at Karolinska Institutet, he worked seamlessly across the disciplines of clinical microbiology, bioengineering, chemistry, and bioentrepreneurship to develop novel tools for the study and diagnosis of bacterial infections.

Haris’ comprehensive research approach provided new insight into urinary tract infection (UTI) pathogenesis and generated two diagnostic assays: a rapid antibiotic susceptibility test and a biofilm detection method for urinary tract infection patients. Biofilm is a state in which bacteria cover themselves with a self-produced slimy substance, becoming more tolerant to antibiotics and are able to escape the immune defences of our body. For his work on biofilm detection, he filed a patent and received a postdoctoral fellowship funded jointly by the European Institute of Technology and Karolinska Institutet to accelerate the commercialisation of this project into an in vitro diagnostic method.

As a Wallenberg-NTU Research Fellow at SCELSE, Haris is focusing on the biofilm-related infections of infective endocarditis and catheter-associated UTI (CAUTI). One common denominator for these infections is the presence of fluid flow. In the case of endocarditis, biofilm on the heart valves is constantly exposed to pulsatile blood flow whereas biofilm on a urinary catheter is exposed to urine flow. Haris is investigating how Enterococcus faecalis colonises the aortic valve and urinary catheter under these dynamic conditions and how bacteria sense surfaces and fluid flow in the host, which could alter bacterial physiology to drive biofilm formation.

Haris is also interested in the interactions between innate immune cells and biofilms, and how they influence the outcome of the infection. With the support of SCELSE’s Seed Funding, he is studying the impact of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) on infective endocarditis biofilms on a tissue and single-cell level, which could lead to a better understanding of the host response to biofilms and reveal new targets for treatment and diagnosis of infective endocarditis.

To study these concepts, he follows an interdisciplinary approach by combining microfluidics to mimic the host environment, microsurgical in vivo models, single-cell imaging and transcriptomics. His ultimate goal is to translate findings from these studies into novel diagnostic and treatment approaches for biofilm-related infections.