Headshot of Alejandra Zararte-Potes Image of Alejandra Zarate-Potes by Alejandra Zarate-Potes


  • Lecturer in Biomedical Science, Biology
    • St Helens Road, BioSciences

      L39 4QP Ormskirk

      United Kingdom

    Accepting PhD Students


    Research activity per year

    Personal profile

    Research interests

    I am an enthusiastic and inquisitive life scientist fascinated by the evolutionary and molecular biology of host-microbe interactions.

    How does the crosstalk between bacteria and their animal hosts work and how has it evolved over time?

    What role does the immune system play in host-microbe interactions?

    What is the decision-making process that leads to a particular immune response?

    These are some of the questions that have captivated me in my past and current work. Previously, my colleagues and I have characterised the transcriptional response of cnidarian and C. elegans invertebrate models to bacterial exposure and uncovered genes that are central to the innate immune response of these organisms, with evolutionary and potential functional conservation in humans. These discoveries have allowed us to understand how specific and fine-tuned innate immune responses can be. In the future, I would like to explore how the natural evolution of the immune system can help us treat infectious disease today.

    My aim is to understand how interactions between animals and microbes work and evolve, how they influence each other’s health and the conditions that lead to disease. I believe that this knowledge can be harnessed to improve human health.

    I am passionate about teaching, promoting research integrity, and want to motivate students and the public to be curious about innate immunity, host-microbe interactions and seeking answers to relevant questions.


    CAREER STEPS      


    Lecturer in Biomedical Science. Edge Hill University, UK.

    Main activities:

    - Research and teaching academic permanent position.

    02.2020-01.2024 Senior Research Associate. Lancaster University, UK.

    Main activities:                       

     - Research on a BBSRC-funded grant to study integrated multiomics (dual-transcriptomics, proteomics, and targeted metabolomics) of host-bacteria interactions during C. elegans gut infections.

    - Research laboratory management and UG/MSc student supervision.

    - Voluntary teaching of skills and statistics workshops for graduate students.

    - Service representing staff researchers in Faculty Committees for Research and Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion.

    - Facilitation of the writing group organised by the Women’s Staff Network.

    Supervisor: Dr. Alexandre Benedetto

    05.2018–01.2020 Postdoctoral Research Associate. Christian-Albrechts University Kiel, Germany.

    Main activities:

    - Research on a DFG-funded grant towards the identification of molecular mechanisms of high immune specificity in C. elegans. Data analysis, presentation at scientific conferences, divulgation of research findings to boarder public, preparation of scientific manuscripts and research bid applications.

    - Organisation of the departmental seminar, UG/MSc teaching in Genetics, Ecology and Immunology courses, and student research project supervision.

    Supervisors: Dr. Katja Dierking and Prof. Dr. Hinrich Schulenburg


    01.2014–05.2018 Doctoral candidate-PhD in Natural Sciences (magna cum laude). Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology Plön, Germany/Christian-Albrechts University Kiel, Germany

    Main activities                        

    - Research towards writing the dissertation titled: High specificity in C. elegans innate immune responses.

    - Supervision of practical students, bachelor theses and assistance with basic and advanced ecology, evolution, and immunity courses.

    Supervisors: Dr. Katja Dierking and Prof. Dr. Hinrich Schulenburg


    01.2011–12.2013 MSc in Biology (Emphasis in Genetics). Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

    Main activities                        

    - Research towards writing the dissertation titled: “Transcriptomic response of the hydrozoan Hydractinia symbiolongicarpus after a bacterial challenge”.

    - Lab management and purchase orders.

    - Supervision of practical students.

    Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Luis F. Cadavid


    01.2011–12.2012 University teaching assistant (assistant professor scholarship). Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

    Main activities:                       

    -Teaching undergraduate level genetics and ecology courses.


    01.2007–12.2010 Undergraduate teaching assistant (Undergraduate scholarship). Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

    Main activities:                         

    -Support with teaching undergraduate level genetics and ecology courses and with ecology field work.


    08.2006–12.2010 BSc in Biology (first of class). Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
    • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
    • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

    Education/Academic qualification

    Natural Sciences, PhD, “High specificity in C. elegans innate immune responses”., Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

    1 Jan 201415 May 2018

    Award Date: 15 May 2018

    Other positions

    Visiting Researcher, Lancaster University

    1 Feb 202431 Jul 2025


    • Q Science
    • Biology
    • Genetics
    • Evolution
    • Gene regulation
    • Metabolism
    • QL Zoology
    • Caenorhabditis elegans
    • Invertebrate Models
    • QR Microbiology
    • Infection
    • Microbiota
    • QR180 Immunology
    • Innate Immunity
    • Host-microbe Interactions
    • Host-pathogen Interactions
    • Evolutionary Immunology

    Research Institutes

    • Health Research Institute

    Research Centres

    • Centre for Human Animal Studies


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