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School of Environment and Life Sciences

Professor Howard Foster

Professor of Microbiology


I did my degree in Biochemistry at the University of Leeds and stayed on to do my PhD in Microbial Biochemistry of the social soil bacterium Myxococcus xanthus with Dr Howard Parish. I spent three years as a postdoc in the Microbiology Unit at the University of Oxford working on sporulation in Bacillus subtilis under Professor Joel Mandelstam and three years with Dr Colin Clarke at the University of East Anglia working on the developmental cycle in Myxococcus.

I was appointed lecturer in Microbiology here at Salford in 1978. Initially I continued working with myxobacteria looking for novel antibiotics but through collaborative work I developed an interest in a number of different bacteria including oral bacteria, Streptococcus spp., Staphylococcus aureus and, more recently, on antimicrobial surfaces for infection control. 


I am responsible for teaching basic aspects of microbiological techniques and bacteriology at level 4, Microbial Communities and Interactions and Research Skills at level 5 and Applied Freshwater Biology at level 6.  At level 7 I contribute to Medical Biotechnology. I also supervise research projects at levels 6 and 7.

Research Interests

My research interests include microbial pathogenicity, particularly the role of lipoproteins in the pathogenicity of Staphylococcus aureus, identification of novel antimicrobial agents and I am currently characterising novel flavonoids from fungi isolated from invertebrates. I have previously worked with the School of Health Sciences on a clinical trial of different treatments on dental decay in under five year olds (Salford Bright Smiles) funded by The NIHR and GlaxoSmithKline.

Future research will be focused on the development and evaluation of novel antimicrobial surface coatings in conjunction with the Institute for Materials Research Centre. This work has previously been funded by the EU. Although it is possible to produce highly antimicrobial surfaces when tested under laboratory conditions the factors that determine their in situ performance are not known and tests to evaluate their performance are in progress. 

Qualifications and Memberships

BSc (Hons) Biochemistry 2(i) (University of Leeds) 1969

PhD (University of Leeds) 1973

Member of the Society for Applied Microbiology

Member of the Microbiology Society

Member of the Woodland Trust

Member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Member of the Royal Horticultural Society

Member of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside


Yates H. M., Sheel P., Hodgkinson J. L., Warwick M. E. A., Elfakhri, S. O., Foster, H. A.  Dual functionality anti-reflection and biocidal coatings. Surface & Coatings Technology 324 (2017) 201–207.

AlHoufie S.T.S. and Foster H.A. (2016). Effects of sub-lethal concentrations of mupirocin on global transcription in Staphylococcus aureus 8325-4 and a model for escape from inhibition. Journal of Medical Microbiology 65, 1-9.

Dhup, V, Kearns, A.M., Pichon B and Foster, H.A. (2015). First report of identification of livestock-associated MRSA ST9 in retail meat in England. Epidemiology and Infection 143, 2989-2992 DOI:

Vahideh Javid Khojasteh, Souad Elfakhri, Howard Anthony Foster (2015). Effects of Silver Sulphadiazine on Production of Extracellular Proteins by Strains of Staphylococcus Aureus Isolated from Burns Wounds. Iranian Journal of Pharmacology 15 (2)

Wareg S E, Foster H A, Daw M A. (2014). Antimicrobial susceptibility patterns of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates collected from healthcare and community facilities in Libya show a high level of resistance to fusidic acid. Journal of Infectious Diseases and Therapy 2:189 DOI 10:4172/2332-08.1000189.

Varghese S., Elfakhri S.O., Sheel D.W., Sheel P., Bolton, F.J., Foster, H. A. (2013). Novel antibacterial silver-silica surface coatings prepared by chemical vapour deposition for infection control. J.Applied Microbiol. 115:1107-1116. DOI: 10.1111/jam.12308

Sajnu Varghese, Souad O. ElFakhri, David W. Sheel, Paul Sheel, F.J. (Eric) Bolton, Howard A. Foster (2013). Antimicrobial activity of novel nanostructured Cu-SiO2 coatings prepared by chemical vapour deposition against hospital related pathogens. AMB Express 3:53

Smullen, J., Finney, M., Storey, D.M. and Foster, H. A. (2012) Prevention of artificial dental plaque formation in vitro by plant extracts Journal of Applied Microbiology 113 (4) 964-973

Foster, H. A. Sheel D.W., Evans P., Sheel  P., Varghese S., Elfakhri S.O., Hodgkinson,  J.L., Yates, H.M. (2012) Antimicrobial activity of dual layer CuO-TiO2 coatings prepared by CVD against hospital related pathogens. Chemical Vapour Deposition 18, 140-146 DOI: 10.1002/cvde.201106978.