The AFGrica Unit in South Africa, in conjunction with the University of Cape Town (UCT), is the world's first international research centre for tackling fungal infections.

About the AFGrica Unit

Opened in 2017, the £600,000 University of Aberdeen AFGrica Unit is based at UCT’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, headed by Professor Valerie Mizrahi. It will give our experts a centre of operations in Africa where they can work in collaboration with UCT experts to establish research programmes that can target the priority areas in fungal diseases that are relevant to the continent.

The development supports our ongoing objectives and activities and it also builds on an existing Wellcome Trust-funded Strategic Award (led by the Aberdeen Fungal Group), where PhD students from low and middle-income nations (including Africa) are trained in Aberdeen and other medical mycology Centres in the rest of the UK. Upon obtaining their degree, these students then return home with their new skills to help address critical fungal research and training needs in their own countries.

Fungal infections kill around 1.3 million people globally every year with the majority of those deaths in Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. In this part of the world, fungal infections contribute to between 600,000 to one million deaths - more than malaria and around the same number of deaths as tuberculosis.

In sub-Saharan Africa, around 50% of people diagnosed with invasive fungal infections die as a result of the infection. For example, in 2008, there were 1 million cases of cryptococcal meningitis in patients with HIV/AIDS, resulting in more than 500,000 related deaths.

Fungal infections kill more people in Africa than anywhere else on the planet. The AFGrica Unit is a unique opportunity to address the urgent need to improve basic knowledge and clinical management of fungal infections in Africa. Professor Gordon Brown

AFGrica Unit - Partner logos

Stop neglecting fungi

The opening of the AFGrica Unit is discussed in an excellent recent editorial in Nature Microbiology entitled "Stop neglecting fungi".