This is a particularly challenging time for those people involved in research into antimicrobial agents and their role in combating microbial infection.  It has been noted that the antimicrobial resistance threat is a worldwide issue and is now a priority area for researchers.  To date the main body of my research has focused on the antimicrobial effects of manuka honey on potentially pathogenic healthcare/wound associated microorganisms.  I have studied the cellular morphology, physiology, biofilm prevention/disruption, adhesion/invasion, virulence expression and proteomic/genetic expression profiles of these organisms in response to varying treatments with honey. It is hoped that the data generated by the in vitro models used to examine the features listed above, could give an insight into the mode of action of the novel antimicrobial agents tested and how these treatments could be applied in an appropriate manner to real world situations. 
In parallel to those studies I am exploring the capacity of manuka honey to potentiate antibiotics already in use, especially those which alone, now have reduced efficacy. We are particularly interested in the way this work could be implicated in the progression of infection and have translational potential.
I am interested in partnerships with the commercial sector looking at ways of applying the in vitro results into a clinical setting.  
Current areas of interest: Antimicrobial susceptibility testing, biofilms, synergy, proteomic/genomic analysis.

Grants & Awards



  • Hodge Foundation, Award for Postdoctoral Researcher (£302,000) ‘The role of Manuka honey in the Management of Cystic Fibrosis’. April 2018.
  • Society for Applied Microbiology, Students into Work Grant (£2496) ‘Development of a novel antibacterial agent for wound pathogens’ May 2017.
  • Microbiology Society, Harry Smith Vacation Studentship (£1880) ‘Redesigning Resilience’ April 2017.
  • NRN-LCEE Research Development Fund Award (£8910) ‘Redesigning Resilience; Ancient Remedies for Modern Problems Workshop. February 2017.
  • Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Interdisciplinary 6 month proof-of-concept project (£25,000) ‘To characterize the volatile metabolites for bio-profiling infecting organisms in chronic wounds in order to evaluate their potential for use as biomarkers of AMR and biofilm infection’.  In partnership with collaborators from Loughborough January 2017.

  • Welsh Crucible small grant scheme (£9720) ‘Redesigning Resilience’  In partnership with collaborators from Swansea University, Bangor University and Aberystwyth University November 2016.

  • KESS II PhD  (£52,020) ‘Application of novel bioactives against commonly isolated wound pathogens’ August 2016.

  • Welsh Crucible Alumni 2016: Welsh Crucible is an award-winning programme of personal, professional and leadership development for the future research leaders of Wales.
  • Research & Enterprise Investment Fund Cardiff Metropolitan University (£2000) ‘Extraction of natural compounds’ in partnership with Bioextractions Wales  January 2016.
  • Accelerator Fund, Cardiff Metropolitan University (£4910) ‘Testing the inhibitory efficacy of manuka honey using an ex vivo porcine lung model; an environment that mimics the cystic fibrosis lung’ December 2015.
  • Urgo Foundation Award (£15,000) ‘A feasibility/pilot study to investigate the relationship between antibiotic use and the incidence of two representative bacteria in antibiotic resistance in diabetic foot ulcers’  October 2015.
  • Microbiology Society Education and Outreach Grant 2015 (£1000) "Grab and Go Microbiology"  October 2015.
  • Cardiff Metropolitan University Employability Scholarship (£2200) ‘Optimisation of the Robbins biofilm device to assess the efficacy of antimicrobials against bacterial biofilms’  May 2015.
  • SGM Harry Smith Vacation Studentship (£1880) ‘The susceptibility of Staphylococcus pseudointermedius and Staphylococcus hyicus to medical grade manuka honey alone and in combination with antibiotics’ April 2015.
  • Cardiff Metropolitan University, Capital Equipment Fund (£7449)  'Robbins Device system' February 2015.
  • The Waterloo Foundation, Award for Postdoctoral Researcher (£161,000) ‘The role of DNase I in combination with antibiotics or Manuka honey in the Management of Cystic Fibrosis’.  October 2014.
  • Jane Hodge Foundation, Award for Postdoctoral Researcher (£153,000) ‘The role of Manuka honey in the Management of Cystic Fibrosis’. October 2014.
  • Health Technology Challenge Scheme, South East Wales Academic Health Science Partnership  (£25,000) ‘Development of new delivery system for polyvinylpyrrolidone’ Collaborative work with Cardiff University, January 2014.
  • SfAM public engagement grant (£2500) October 2013. 
  • Strategic Insight Partnership Award (£3000) To visit Westway Health Galway  November 2013.
  • UWIC Research and Enterprise Fund (£50,000) Collaborative grant with University of Warwick (Dr. K. J. Purdy) for the characterisation of polymicrobial biofilms at the structural and molecular level September 2011.
  • BMG Labtech – research proposal prize; SPECTROstar Nano full spectrum absorbance instrument. May 2011.
  • Sir Halley Stewart Trust (£40,000) “Interactions between honey and antibiotics” September 2010
  • The Waterloo Foundation (£50,729) - “Interactions between honey and antibiotics” September 2010.

Media Coverage

  • BBC 2 Hive Alive July 2014
  • Press release, Society for General Microbiology Spring Meeting, Harrogate. April 2011.
  • Coverage focused on using honey to treat infections with MRSA, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Streptococcus pyogenes, which appeared in over 100 national and international newspapers and news websites.
  • National Geographic. How honey curbs MRSA superbug. September 8th 2009.
  • Sign of Science (previously Microbe World) radio program (coverage of 2007 ASM presentation)

Dr Rowena Jenkins

Microbiology and Infectious Disease
Swansea University Medical School 

ILS-1 Building, Singleton Park,
Swansea. SA2 8PP


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