Anna-Maria Pappa, "Bioelectronic antibiotics"

Fellow 2017 L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science, Anna-Maria Pappa dreams of defeating bacteria and making antibiotics accessible to all.

Ten million. That’s how many people it is estimated could be dying each year as a result of resistance to antibiotics in 20501. The proliferation of bacteria, helped by excessive and inappropriate use of antibiotics, is significantly reducing the effectiveness of treatments and leading to increased mortality. 

It’s a public health problem which has caught the attention of Greek PhD student Anna-Maria Pappa (who was born and bred in Thessaloniki), at the Department of Bioelectronics at the Ecole des Mines de Saint-Etienne. The young researcher is working on an in vitro diagnostics platform with the aim of understanding and anticipating the effects of antibiotics on bacteria, in order to prevent the development of resistance to them. 

These in vitro tests are of interest for two reasons: they are original in that they bring together biology and electronics, and they use an innovative technique which reduces the number of test steps, to produce significant, reliable results at a reduced cost. 

Anna-Maria Pappa conducts her tests by bringing pathogenic bacteria into contact with antibiotics in an electronic device. “By analyzing the signal emitted by the device, it’s possible to study the effects of different drugs on the bacteria.” The aim of this device is to minimize the negative effects associated with intensive or abusive use of antibiotics by limiting the development of pathogenic bacteria. 

Her dream “would be to make a contribution, however small, to the health system, to make it accessible to everyone, everywhere”.

1. O’Neill J. Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. Tackling drug-resistance infections globally: final report and recommendations. 2016.

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For Women in Science

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