Dr Katie Ledingham

Dr Katie LedinghamResearch Topic Title: ‘Social-Cultural Approaches to Microbial Life in an Era of Antimicrobial Resistance.’

My research investigates contemporary entanglements between microbial and social-cultural life.  We live in a moment where newly emerging infectious diseases and multi-drug resistant infections are unravelling the taken-for-grantedness of modern life and modern medicine.  By 2050 it is predicted that increasing rates of drug resistant infections may contribute to as many as 10 million deaths per year (O’Neill, 2016).  We also live in a moment of scientific possibility and innovation where it is now possible to engineer bacteria to detect arsenic and to alter the genome of the Anopheles gambiae mosquito so that it is less able to transmit the malaria parasite.  My research explores the politics and possibilities associated with these contemporary biosocial entanglements.  I am interested in a) how we might relate to and understand microbial life forms in new ways and b) the role of innovative biotechnologies and governance frameworks in helping to address contemporary health challenges.  Gene drive mosquitoes, for example, may help to tackle malaria and the threat of increasing insecticide resistance but only if gene drive technology is co-developed with African partners in an ecologically sensitive manner that is alert to the social-cultural contexts in which it is intended to operate.  I work closely with governing bodies and external partners.  I was recently elected as Rapporteur at the World Health Organisation’s fourth cultural contexts of health meeting and appointed as a junior consultant for WHO Europe.

Mentor/s: Professor Henry Buller; Professor Mark Jackson


Ledingham, K., Helldén, D., Hinchliffe, S., Jackson, M., Thomas, F and Tomson, G. (2019) Antibacterial Resistance. Using a cultural contexts of health approach to address a global health challenge. Policy Brief, No. 2. WHO Europe.
Ledingham, K. (2018) ‘Social-cultural dynamics of antibacterial resistance: expanding policy horizons, opening up new fields of intervention,’ available at: http://cultureandhealth.exeter.ac.uk/2018/01/socio-cultural-dynamics-of-antibacterial-resistance-expanding-policy-horizons-opening-up-new-fields-of-intervention/


E-mail: k.a.ledingham@exeter.ac.uk