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Professor Sally Jane Cutler

Professor in Medical Microbiology

Infection & Immunity

Module leadership; programme design and leadership; research degrees leader; member of senior management team.


    Research expertise has evolved from arthropod-borne borrelial infections to encompass a wide array of bacterial zoonoses including Rickettsia, Coxiella, Leptospira and Bartonella. This work has gone from field-based studies through to molecular profiling and from developing countries to those in more affluent nations. This has helped to develop Professor Cutler’s international reputation in the field. She is extensively involved with dissemination of research and serves in several editorial and advisory roles. This wealth of experience is further disseminated to students through teaching activities.


    Medical Microbiology

    Vector-borne infections



    • Various collaborators both nationally and internationally, but always open to new research collaborations.


    Professor Cutler's publication portfolio now contains over 100 journal publications attracting an excess of 1800 citations and a further 6 book chapters (h-index 21), her scientific contributions have aided our understanding in the field of bacterial zoonoses establishing a reputation as a scientific leader in this area. Selected recent publications are listed below:

    Whatmore A.M., Shankster S.J., Perrett L.L., Murphy T.J., Brew S.D., Thirlwall R.E., Cutler S.J., & MacMillan A.P.  (2006) Identification and characterization of variable number of tandem repeat (VNTR) markers for typing of Brucella spp.  J. Clin Microbiol. 46, 1982-1993. [Citations 100]
    Magali Lescot, Stéphane Audic, Catherine Robert, Thitien Nguyen, Guillaume Blanc, Sally J. Cutler, Jean-Michel Claverie, Didier Raoult & Michel Drancourt. The genome of Borrelia recurrentis, the agent of deadly louse-borne relapsing fever, is a degraded subset of tick-borne Borrelia duttonii. PLoS Genetics September 2008 e1000185. [Citations 61]
    Cutler, S.J., Abdissa, A. & Trape, J-F. (2009) New Concepts for the Old Challenges of African Relapsing Fever Borreliosis. Clinical Microbiology & Infection.15: 400-6. [Citations 38]
    Cutler, S.J. Bonilla, E.M., Singh, R. 2010 Insights into the Population Structure of East African Relapsing Fever Borrelia. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 16 (7) 1076-80. [Citations 17]
    Cutler, S.J. (2010) Relapsing Fever – A forgotten disease revealed. Journal for Applied Microbiology 108: 1115-1122. [Citations 34]
    Cutler S.J., Fooks AR, van der Poel WHM. (2010) Public health threat of new, reemerging, and neglected zoonoses in the industrialized world. Emerg Infect Dis 16 (1) 1-7. [Citations 82]
    Cutler, S.J., Abdissa, A., Adamu, H., Tolosa, T., Gashaw, A. 2012 Bartonella in Ethiopian lice. Comparative Immunology, Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, 35: 17-21. [Citations 8]
    Pader, V., Nikitorowicz-Buniak, J. Abdissa, A., Adamu, H., Tolosa, T., Gashaw, A. Cutler, S.J. 2012 Rickettsia hoogstraalii in Ethiopian Argas persicus ticks. Ticks & Tick-Borne Diseases 3: 337-44. [Citations 2]
    Haitham E, Gimenez G, Robert C, Cutler SJ, Raoult D, Drancourt M. 2012 Complete genome sequence of Borrelia crocidurae. J Bacteriol 194 (14) 3723-4. [Citations 9]
    Wolcott, R., Costerton, J.W., Raoult, D., Cutler, S.J. (2013) The polymicrobial nature of biofilm infection. Clinical Microbiology & Infection 19 (2): 107-112. [Citations 28]
    Knobel, D.L., Maina, A.N., Cutler, S.J., Ogola, E., Feikin, D.R., Junghae, M., Halliday, J.E.B., Richards, A.L., Breiman, R.F., Cleaveland, S., & Njenga, M.K. 2013 Coxiella burnetii in humans, domestic ruminants and ticks in rural western Kenya. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene; 88; (3) 513-8. [Citations 7]
    Halliday, JEB, Knobel, DL, Allan, KJ, Bronsvoort, M de C, Handel, I, Agwanda, B, Cutler, SJ, Olack, B, Hartskeerl, RA, Njenga, MK, Cleaveland, S, Breiman, RF. 2013 Urban leptospirosis in Africa: a cross-sectional survey of Leptospira infection in rodents in the Kibera urban settlement, Nairobi, Kenya. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 89(6):1095-102. [Citations 9]

     1. Maina, A.N., Jiang, J., Omulo, S., Cutler, S.J., Ade, F., Ogola, E., Feikin, D., Njenga, M.K., Cleaveland, S., Mpoke, S., Ng’ang’a, Z., Breiman, R.F., Knobel, D.L. Richards, A.L. 2014 High prevalence of Rickettsia africae variants in Amblyomma variegatum ticks from domestic mammals in rural western Kenya: implications for human health. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 14(10): 693-702. [Citations 16]

    2. Cutler S.J. (2014) Bacteria: Coxiella burnetii. (Chapter 94) In: Motarjemi Y. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Food Safety, Volume 1, pp. 410-416. Waltham, MA: Academic Press. ISBN: 978-0-12-378613-5.

    3. Cutler S.J. (2014) Chapter 100: Bacterial zoonoses – an overview. Molecular Medical Microbiology 2e. Editors Tang, Y-W., Liu, D., Poxton, I.R., Schwartzman, J.D., Sussman, M. 1767-76. ISBN: 978-0-12-397169-2.

    4. Cutler, S.J. (2015) Chapter 165: Relapsing fever borreliae. Clinical Infectious Disease, 2ed. Editor David Schlossberg. Cambridge University Press. 1068-1071.

    5. Cutler, S.J. (2015) Relapsing fever borreliae – a global review. Clinics in Laboratory Medicine 35(4): 847-865. doi:10.1016/j.cll.2015.07.001 [21 citations]

    6. Vayssier-Taussat, M., Kazimirova, M., Hubalek, Z., Hornok, S., Farkas, R., Cosson, J-F., Bonnet, S., Vourch, G., Gasqui, P., Mihalca, A.D., Plantard, O., Silaghi, C., Cutler, S.J. Rizzoli, A. (2015) Emerging horizons for tick-borne pathogens: from the “one pathogen-one disease” vision to the pathobiome paradigm. Future Microbiology 10 (12) 2033-43. [16 citations]

    7. Naddaf, S.R., Ghazinezhad, B., Sedaghat, M.M., Asl, H.M, Cutler, S.J. (2015) Tick-borne relapsing fever in southern Iran. Emerging Infectious Diseases 21 (6) 1078-80 DOI: 10.3201/eid2106.141715.[2 citations]

    8. Cutler, S.J. (2015) Neglected zoonoses: forgotten infections among disregarded populations. Clinical Microbiology & Infection 21 (5) 392-3.

    9. Cutler, S.J. (2016) Refugee crisis and re-emergence of forgotten infections in Europe. Clinical Microbiology & Infection 22 (1) 8-9. [4 citations]

    10. Shirani, D., Rakhshanpoor, A., Cutler, S.J., Ghazinezhad, B., Naddaf, S.R. (2016). A case of canine borreliosis in Iran caused by Borrelia persicus. Ticks & Tick-Borne Diseases 7 (3) 424-6. [1 citation]

    11. Antonelli, G. & Cutler, S. Evolution of Koch’s postulates: towards a twenty-first century understanding of microbial infection. (2016) Clinical Microbiology & Infection 22(7) 583-4. doi:10.1016/j.cmi.2016.03.030.

    12. Vanrompay D, Nguyen TLA, Cutler SJ, Butaye P. 2017. Antimicrobial resistance in Chlamydiales, Rickettsia, Coxiella, and other intracellular pathogens. Microbiol Spectrum 5(4):ARBA-0003- 2017. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.ARBA-0003-2017.
    13. Cutler, S.J. Adding a further twist to the tail of leptospirosis in the UK. (2017). Veterinary Record 180 (17) p422-3.

    14. Cutler, S.J. & Bottieau, E. Migrant health – a cause for concern? (2017) Clinical Microbiology & Infection, 23 (5); pages to follow.

    15. Naddaf, S.R., Ghazinezhad, B., Kazemirad, E., Cutler, S.J. (2017) Relapsing fever causative agent in southern Iran is a closely related species to East African borreliae. Ticks and Tick borne Diseases 8 882-6.

    16. Cutler, S.J., Ruzic-Sabljic, E., Potkonjak. A. (2017) Emerging borreliae – Expanding beyond Lyme borreliosis. Molecular Cellular Probes 31: 22-27. doi: 10.1016/j.mcp.2016.08.003. [citations 8]

    17. Sally J. Cutler, Nataliia Rudenko, Marina Golovchenko, Wibke J. Cramaro, Josiane Kirpach, Sara Savic, Iva Christova, Ana Amaro. (2017) Diagnosing borreliosis Vectorborne & Zoonotic Diseases 17(1):2-11. [Citations 5]

    18. Marcella Mori, Katja Mertens, Sally J Cutler, Ana Sofia Santos. (2017) Critical aspects for detection of Coxiella burnetii, Vectorborne & Zoonotic Diseases 17(1) 33-44. [Citations 5]

    19. Gabriele Margos; Durdica Marosevic; Sally Cutler; Marketa Derdakova; Maria Diuk-Wasser; Stefan Emler; Durland Fish; Jeremy Gray; Klaus-Peter Hunfeld; Benoit Jaulhac; Olaf Kahl; Sergey Kovalev; Peter Kraiczy; Robert S. Lane; Reto Lienhard; Per-Eric Lindgren; Nicholas Ogden; Katharina Ornstein; Tobias Rupprecht; Ira Schwartz; Andreas Sing; Reinhard K. Straubinger; Franc Strle; Maarten Voordouw; Annapaola Rizzoli; Brian Stevenson; Volker Fingerle (2017). There is inadequate evidence to support the division of the genus Borrelia. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology; 7: 1081-4.

    20. Cutler, S.J., Idris, J.M., Ahmed, A.O., Elelu, N. 2018 Ornithodoros savingyi – the tick vector of Candidatus Borrelia kalaharica in Nigeria. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 56(9). DOI: 10.1128/JCM.00532-18

    21. Estrada-Peña, A., Cutler, S.J., Potkonjak, A., Vassier-Tussaut, M., Van Bortel, W., Zeller, H., Fernández Ruiz, N., Mihalca, A.D. An updated meta-analysis of the distribution and prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. in ticks in Europe. International Journal of Health Geographics 2018 Dec 4;17(1):41. doi: 10.1186/s12942-018-0163-7.

    22. Cutler Sally, Vayssier-Taussat Muriel, Estrada-Peña Agustín, Potkonjak Aleksandar, Mihalca Andrei Daniel, Zeller Hervé. A new Borrelia on the block: Borrelia miyamotoi – a human health risk?. Euro Surveill. 2019;24(18):pii=1800170.
    23. Brian Stevenson, Volker Fingerle, Gary P. Wormser, Gabriele Margos & 67 others. (2019) Public health and patient safety concerns merit retention of Lyme borreliosis-associated spirochetes within the genus Borrelia, and rejection of the genus novum Borreliella. Ticks and Tick borne diseases 10 (1):1-4.

    24. Cutler, S.J., Vayssier-Taussat, M., Estrada-Pena, A. Potkonjak, A., Zeller, H., Mihalca, A.D. Co-infections and ticks – breaking the single infection paradigm. Ticks & Tick-Borne Dis post-submission revisions 2019.
    25. Ioana Adriana Matei, Agustin Estrada-Pena, Sally Jane Cutler, Muriel Vayssier-Taussat, Lucia Varela de Castro, Aleksandar Potkonjak, Herve Zeller, Andrei Daniel Mihalca. A review on the eco-epidemiology and clinical management of human granulocytic anaplasmosis and its agent in Europe. 2019 Parasites Vectors 12; 599 DOI: 10.1186/s13071-019-3852-6
    26. Gabriele Margos, Volker Fingerle, Sally Cutler, Alexander Gofton, Brian Stevenson, Agustín Estrada-Peña. Controversies in bacterial taxonomy: The example of the genus Borrelia. Ticks & Tick-Borne Dis November 2019.

    27. Chochlakis, D., Cutler, S.J., Giadinis, N.D., Psaroulaki, A. Bartonella vinsonii sub. arupensis infection in animals of veterinary importance, ticks and biopsy samples. New Microbes and New Infections 2020; 34


    Recent funding included:

    ECDC Tender partner  “Guidance, data collection and scientific advice on tick-borne diseases” £25,420 UEL component; full grant  £141,497 Jan 2015 3yrs

    AREF Research Development  funding  with Nusirat Elelu “Establishing presence of Ornithodoros ticks in Nigeria & assessment of their potential as vectors of clinical importance” £37,333  Jan 2018 15 months

    GCRF Funding “Integrated Participatory One Health Approach to Tick-Borne Diseases in Nigeria” £25,000 Jan 2020-June 2020.

    ECDC Tender partner “Support to ECDC and EU Member States on Lyme neuroborreliosis surveillance and expert advice on tick borne diseases”, Ref.: NP/2019/OCS/960 2019

    Seedcorn: Q fever – a forgotten pathogen in our midst? (2006 £24,888 over 3 years)

    MedVetNet (EU FP6 NoE: New, emerging & neglected zoonoses (2006 14,000 euros 1 year)

    CBRN S&T: Animal reservoirs of zoonotic disease (2006 with Prof Taylor over 2 years)

    CBRN S&T: Real-time PCR diagnostic tests for selected agents (2006 for 3 years)

    Wellcome Trust: Relationships between human & animal health in Kenya (with Dr Cleaveland – collaborative role)

    ISTC: Monitoring of human & animal brucellosis in Kazakhstan (2006 collaborative role)

    Government funding Portugal: tick-borne diseases in Portugal (2006 collaborative role as project consultant)

    UEL Promising Researcher: Multiplex detection of bacterial zoonoses (2007 £50,000 over 10 months)

    Nuffield vacation studentship: Characterising a Rickettsial species found in the African soft tick Ornithodoros moubata (2009 £1500 8 weeks)

    SGM: Summer vacation studentship: Simplification of rickettsial diagnostics (2010 £1880 8 weeks)

    SGM Presidents Fund Ticks & lice in Ethiopia (2010 £2945 4 weeks)

    UEL Research Development Funding Characterisation of Rickettsia in soft ticks (2011 £5000)

    Nuffield Vacation Studentship on in situ typing of Leptospirosis among UK wildlife. (2011 £1588 8 weeks)

    Astellas: evaluation of antifungal agents & fungal biofilms (with Imperial College 2011 £6000).

    UEL summer internship – Bartonella in head lice (2012 £2000)

    UEL summer internship – Do Leptospira in environmental & wildlife pose a risk to human/veterinary health? (2011 £2000)

    UEL School-funded PhD studentship; 3 years. Funded £18250 2013

    Comparative virulence of Campylobacter concisus and Campylobacter jejuni using a novel in vitro model.

    SfAM Students into work (2013 £2500) Bartonella in lice and ticks.

    UEL summer student intern “Presence of non-thermophilic Campylobacter in UK diarrhoeal stools” £2000 Jan 2014

    SfAM Students into work grant “Louse phylogeny and infection” £2500 March 2014.

    UEL mid-career research funding call 2014 £3000 over 1 year. Molecular characterisation of lice.

    UEL School of Health, Sport & Bioscience research funding to undertake multipathogen array screening of human lice £7000 December 2014.

    Probiotics and their ability to interfere with tissue invasion by Campylobacter concisus. 2015 £6100 over 1 year. Probiotics International Ltd (Protexin).


    ECDC Tender partner  “Guidance, data collection and scientific advice on tick-borne diseases” £25,420 UEL component; full grant  £141,497 Jan 2015

    Civic Engagement Funding UEL “Impact of Head Louse Infestations in London” £4450 Nov 2015 over 1 year.


    Progressing scientific knowledge

    I am passionate about research, whether it is my own or that of others. I work with several learned societies to further knowledge and serve as an associate editor for Clinical Microbiology and Infection.


    Capacity building and improving diagnostics in developing countries

    I am keen to improve diagnostic capacity in developing nations.



    Medical Microbiology
    Teaching experience from undergraduate through to post-graduate. Several PhD and MRes completions. Research degree examination experience.