Dr Primrose Freestone

Associate Professor in Clinical Microbiology

Contact details

Office: 229b, Lab 212, Maurice Shock Medical Sciences Building

Telephone: (+44) (0)116 252 5656

Email: ppef1@le.ac.uk

Personal details

I studied for my BSc, PhD (both in Biochemistry) and PGCE (Secondary Science) at the University of Leicester, and am still here, now as an Associate Professor in Clinical Microbiology. I teach, research and invent. I co-founded the field of Microbial Endocrinology, a trans-disciplinary research area representing the intersection of microbiology with mammalian endocrinology and neurophysiology. This research area has led to a new understanding of how hormones released under stress (e.g. adrenaline) can have significant consequences for development and progression of infectious disease in a wide range of human and animal health and disease scenarios. Recognition of my role in founding microbial endocrinology led to the award of a Royal Society of Biology Fellowship for ‘outstanding contribution to the life sciences’. I am also an Honorary Senior Lecturer In the Institute of Child Health, University College London.


Current projects:

  • Microbial Endocrinology: stress and its impact on infection risk
  • Fresh produce safety: preventing enteric pathogen colonisation of fresh produce
  • Development of novel anti-infectives

Research interests


Selected publications and book:

Book: Lyte, M and Freestone, PPE (Editors). Microbial Endocrinology: inter-kingdom signaling in health and disease. Springer Publishers (2010).

Aldriwesh M, Al-Dayan N, Barratt, J and Freestone P (2019). The iron biology of peritoneal dialysis patients may be a risk factor for development of infectious peritonitis. Peritoneal Dialysis International pii: pdi.2018.00052. doi: 10.3747/pdi.2018.00052

Koukkidis G, Freestone, P (2018). Salmonella Contamination of Fresh Salad Produce: Prevalence, Impact and Reduction Strategies. J Horti Sci Crop Res 1(1): 102-108

Koukkidis G, Haigh R, Allcock N, Jordan, S and Freestone P (2017). Salad leaf juices enhance Salmonella growth, fresh produce colonisation and virulence. Applied & Environmental Microbiology 83:1. doi: 10.1128/ AEM02416-16. This article was chosen as a special interest feature by the American Society of Microbiology

Sandrini S, Aldriwesh M, Alruways M, and Freestone P (2015). Microbial endocrinology: host–bacteria communication within the gut microbiome. Journal of Endocrinology 225, R1–R15.

Smith CM , Sandrini S, Datta S, Freestone P, Shafeeq S, Radhakrishnan P, Williams, Glenn SM, Kuipers OP, Hirst RA , Easton A J , Andrew PW and O'Callaghan C. 2014. RSV Increases the Virulence of Streptococcus pneumoniae by Binding to PBP1a: a New Paradigm in Respiratory Infection. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. DOI: 10.1164/rccm.201311-2110OC.

Sandrini, S, Alghofaili, F Yesilkaya, H, Freestone, P, (2014). Host stress hormone norepinephrine stimulates pneumococcal growth, biofilm formation and virulence gene expression. BMC Microbiology 07/2014; 14:180.

Freestone P (2013). Communication between bacteria and their host. Scientifica. Hindawi Publishing Corporation

Haigh R, Kumar B, Sandrini S, and Freestone P (2013). Mutation design and strain background influence the phenotype of Escherichia coli luxS mutants Molecular Microbiology 88:951-969.

Sandrini S, Masania R, Haigh R, and Freestone P (2013). Role of porin proteins in acquisition of transferrin iron by enteropathogens. Microbiology. DOI 10.1099/mic.0.071928-0. This article was chosen as a special interest feature by the Microbiology Society

Freestone, P., Hirst, R.; Sandrini, S., Sharaff, F., Fry, H., Hyman, S., and O'Callaghan, C. (2012). Pseudomonas aeruginosa-Catecholamine Inotrope Interactions: A Contributory Factor in the Development of Ventilator Associated Pneumonia? Chest 142: 1200-1210.

Full list of publications


I have a PGCE and am a qualified secondary science teacher. I also hold FHEA and SFHEA fellowships and am a Royal Society of Biology Chartered Science Teacher. I am also a Higher Education Academy-trained HEA Fellowship assessor, and am an educational adviser for the Royal Society of Biology BERG (Biology Education Research Group).I teach both undergraduate postgraduate courses:

Convenor of BS3068, Microbial Biotechnology

Convenor of BS1040, The Cell- an Introduction to cell biology and Microbiology Biological Sciences Study Well Tutor

Contributor to the Biological Sciences and MSc modules BS0012, BS0014, BS2030, MB7308B and MB7318A.

Microbiology and Biological Sciences Schools Admissions and Outreach Tutor

University Microbiology Careers Tutor

Biological Sciences Programme Year in Industry Supervisor.

Post Graduate Tutor for the Department of Respiratory Sciences


I work regularly with the media (journalists, magazines, TV and radio) in the area of food safety and popular microbiology e.g. Which? Magazine. Research funded by the BBSRC on fresh produce infections features as best practice advice on the UK NHS website. Our BBSRC funded salad work has featured on national TV and newspapers

I also write popular science articles: an article on toilet seat hygiene was reported nationally in The Sun and Medicalxpress and was translated into French and Spanish and achieved a >750,000 readership.

I am currently a Microbiology adviser for BBC Radio Leicester. With the station presenters and producers I collaborate on topical science research projects and present articles on microbiology, health and biotechnology subjects.

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