Sophie Foley

Sophie Foley

Dr Sophie Foley

Associate Professor


I am an Associate Professor in Microbiology and also Director of International Partnership and Development for the School of Applied Sciences.

My current research primarily focuses on bacteriophages (viruses that specifically attack bacteria). From a biomedical perspective, our interest is the exploitation of phages as a source of antimicrobials both for the treatment of bacterial infections and the control of specific bacterial populations in contexts such as animal husbandry and medical. From an environmental perspective, our interests include phage diversity and ecology in environments such as soil and activated sludge as phages may play an important role in the success or failure of a particular remediation strategy. In the context of food, research has focused on phage diversity and ecology in the dairy industry and environment, together with the selection and development of starter cultures resistant to phage infection.
Additional research interests include the functionality of intestinal microflora (e.g. carbohydrate metabolism by Bifidobacterium, chitinolytic/cellulolytic gut microflora), and the response of microorganisms to environmental stresses. With a background in food microbiology, I have experience of industrial research having worked previously as a research scientist at the National Food Biotechnology Centre (Ireland) and Nestle Research Centre (Switzerland). In my current post, I continue to develop collaborations with industry (food companies and food/environmental testing companies) either as consultancy or through funded collaborative research programmes to support SMEs.
In addition to teaching and research, I am programme leader for the BSc (Hons) Biological Science and MSc Biomedical Science, delivered through our partner HKU-SPACE at Hong Kong University. In 2009 I was appointed Teaching Fellow, with a particular interest in the learning experience of our international students studying on Edinburgh Napier programmes delivered overseas and the support of staff teaching on these programmes. As School Director for International Partnerships and Development, I am responsible for international articulations and our transnational education (TNE) provision, working with colleagues and our overseas partners in Singapore, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka across the disciplines of biomedical sciences, microbiology, sport & exercise science, sociology and psychology.


Advisory panels and expert committees or witness

  • Assessor as invited independent expert scientist for European Commission, 2004-2009
  • HEA QAA reviewer


External Examining/Validations

  • External Examiner for Higher Certificate in Medical Laboratory Sciences (Medical Microbiology), Hong Kong University, School for Professional and Academic Continued Education


Fellowships and Awards

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


Grant Reviewer

  • BBSRC Peer Reviewer


Invited Speaker

  • Bacteriophages – friend and foe? North-East Agricultural University, Harbin (China), Nov 2005.
  • ‘Bacteriophages in Cheese Manufacturing’. Invited speaker to Scottish Artisan Cheese Makers Network, organised by Interface Food and Drink, Scotland – SRUC Elmswood Campus, Cupar, Oct 2015
  • Bacteriophages – The Coming of Age. National University of Ireland Galway (Ireland). Invited by Postgraduate Microbiology Society, March 2009.
  • Bacteriophages – a tool amongst many in the fight against antibiotic resistance. Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore, Jan 2015
  • ‘Bio Medical Science – the emerging career path for students of Life Sciences in India’. National Degree College and Mount Carmel College, Bangalore (India). July 2015.
  • Probiotics and Bifidobacterium. National Soybean Engineering Centre, Harbin, China, Nov 2005.
  • Probiotics and Bifidobacterium. North-East Agricultural University, Harbin (China), Nov 2005.
  • Workshop ‘Biotechnology and it Applications: Towards the Future in Food, Agriculture and Medical Science’, Universitas Indonusa Esa Unggul, Jakarta (Indonesia),
  • Can the bacteriophage genome be exploited in the development of bacteriophage-resistant starter cultures? University of Bordeaux (France), 1999.
  • Can functional analysis of Bifidobacterium provide insights to activity within the human gastrointestinal tract? North-East Agricultural University, Harbin (China), Nov 2005.
  • ‘Careers in Life Sciences’, Keynote speech at the Biomedicine and Biotechnology Forum, organised by Spectrum Institute of Science and Technology, Colombo (Sri Lanka), July 2015
  • Plasmid replication in lactic acid bacteria. Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (Spain), 1994.
  • Plasmid replication in lactic acid bacteria. Centro de Investigaciones Biologicas, Madrid (Spain), 1994.
  • Plasmid of lactic acid bacteria and their relevance to dairy applications. National Research Centre of Dairy Engineering & Technology and the Heilongjiang Dairy Training Centre, Harbin (China), Nov 2005.
  • Phages – The Coming of Age. Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi (Ghana), April 2014


Media Activity

  • ‘Relevance of Biotechnology to Indonesia’ - Radio Talk Show on Mustang Radio, a radio station targeting teenagers, Jakarta (Indonesia)


Research Degree External Examining

  • External Examiner PhD, University of Lille (France) (2007)
  • External Examiner PhD - University of “Al. I. Cuza”, Iasi (Romania) (2004)
  • External Examiner PhD, University of Leicester (2013)
  • External Examiner PhD, Heriot Watt University (2016)



  • Journal reviewer: Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research (2016), Journal of General Virology (2013), Letters in Applied Microbiology (2013, 2008), The Science of the Total Environment (2008) , Journal of Applied Microbiology (2008), Journal of Biotechnology (2005)


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