To recognise infection, the immune system utilizes sensors on immune cells called “pattern recognition receptors” which detect invading pathogens. These sensors then trigger a number of responses which are aimed at providing protection against the infection.

Our group is focussed on understanding a particular group of these pathogen sensors, called the C-type lectins (CLRs), which stemmed from our discovery of the first receptor in this class, Dectin-1.

We have shown that CLRs are able to induce essential immune responses, and have determined the mechanisms that they utilize to trigger these effects. Importantly, we have shown that CLRs play a central role in protective immune responses during fungal infections and identified genetic variants of Dectin-1 in humans, which can confer susceptibility to disease.

We have also determined that defects in recognition by pathogen sensors can result in an untreatable fungal infection of the skin, called chromoblastomycosis; work which has led directly to the testing of a novel treatment in humans.

Our current research is aimed at gaining a more detailed understanding the role of CLRs in immunity during fungal infection, and exploring the roles and functions of new CLRs that we have recently identified.

Spotlight on... Professor Gordon Brown

New insight into body's response to killer fungus

Aaron Crawford, PhD student in Duncan Wilson’s group talks to Professor Gordon Brown about the collaborative research that led to the new discovery that the receptor MelLec recognises the pigment melanin in the pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus to trigger an immune response.

Opathy meets... Prof. Gordon Brown

Giuseppe Buda de Cesare, PhD student in Carol Munro's group and Early Stage Researcher in the European Training Network OPATHY interviews Gordon Brown about his career and what it takes to be an internationally recognized scientist.

Group Members

  • Gordon Brown - Principal Investigator
  • Janet Willment - Senior Scientist
  • Delyth Reid - Senior Scientist
  • Ivy Dumbuza - Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Mark Stappers - Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Fabian Salazar - Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Betty Hebecker - DFG Fellow
  • Claire Hoving - Postdoctoral Fellow (based at University of Cape Town)
  • Roanne Keaton - Postdoctoral Fellow (based at University of Cape Town)
  • Patricia Otieno - PhD student (based at the University of Cape Town)
  • Lauren Whitehead - PhD Student
  • Patawee Asamaphan - PhD Student
  • Justin Barclay - PhD Student
  • Carol Wallace - Laboratory Technician
  • Diane Stewart - Laboratory Technician