FEMS Microbiology Reviews Poster Prize: Silke Vercauteren

We send our congratulations to Silke Vercauteren, who won the Best Poster Prize at FEMS2023. This award is sponsored by our journal FEMS Microbiology Reviews.

FEMS2023 took place on 9-13 July 2023 in Hamburg, Germany. We had over 1800 participants from over 70 countries join us to share all the latest developments across the broad scope of microbiology.

Read our interview with Silke about her research below:


What is your current position, and what was your scientific journey to get there?

I am a third-year PhD researcher in the department of Microbial and Molecular Systems at KU Leuven (Belgium). Prior to joining the Doctoral program, I obtained a Master of Bioscience Engineering from KU Leuven with a focus on cellular and genetic engineering. During my Master, I performed my Master’s thesis in the Michiels lab, where I am currently still working. My current research focuses on how bacteria can enter and exit a temporary antibiotic tolerant state.


What did you enjoy most at FEMS2023?

The FEMS conference was a nice experience since I learned about other people’s interesting work and could connect with other researchers.


Could you describe the research your poster covered?

I am working on temporary antibiotic tolerant bacteria, called persisters. This subpopulation of dormant cells can survive an antibiotic treatment whereas all sensitive cells are killed. After treatment, these persisters wake up and grow out into a new bacterial population causing relapses of infections. Using my research, I want to look into the genetic mechanism responsible for the formation and the awakening of persisters. For this, I am using a whole-genome CRISPRi screening. Based on our screening data, we found that metabolic processes repress the formation of persisters whereas DNA repair seems to facilitate both persister formation and awakening.


What do you hope to focus your research on in the future?

I am interested in bacterial research that has an impact in the medical field, for example, antibiotic persistence where I am currently working on. I hope to stay in this kind of field since bacteria have an important influence on our health. Unfortunately, our knowledge of how bacteria can be helpful or how they cause (chronic) infections is still too little, which makes it intriguing to look deeper into their mechanisms.


We use income from the FEMS Journals to fund grants, awards, and projects, and to support our knowledge sharing events and initiatives. Consider publishing your research with our journals to help the global microbiology community.

FEMS Journals and Open Access

Embracing an Open Future

All but one of the FEMS journals are now fully open access (OA), with one journal, FEMS Microbiology Letters remaining a subscription journal with free-to-publish and OA options. Open access is key to supporting the FEMS mission of disseminating high quality research as widely as possible: when high quality, peer reviewed sound science is open access, anyone, anywhere in the world with an internet connection, can read it.

Find out more
More Articles
More articles