Dr Donna MacCallum

Dr Donna MacCallum
BSc (Hons) Genetics; PhD (Microbiology); PGCE (Higher Education Teaching); FHEA; FRSB

Senior Lecturer

Dr Donna MacCallum
Dr Donna MacCallum

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 437425
work +44 (0)1224 437462
The University of Aberdeen Aberdeen Fungal Group
Institute of Medical Sciences (Office 4.21)
University of Aberdeen
AB25 2ZD


Current PhD students

PhD students Helen Heaney, Dora Corzo Leon, Ambre Chapuis, Stylianos Simantirakis, Dan Larcombe


  • BSc (Hons) Genetics, 1994
  • PhD in Microbiology, 1998
  • PGCE in Higher Education Teaching, 2004
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 2007
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, 2013

Publications, Reviewing and H-Index


Memberships and Affiliations

  • Postgraduate Teaching Lead, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition (2016- )

  • Programme Coordinator of MSc Microbiology (2014- )

  • Programme Coordinator of MRes Medical Mycology (2015 - )

  • Programme Coordinator of MSc Genetics (2015-  )

    Programme Coordinator of MSc Immunology (2017 )


  • Course Coordinator of MC5516 (Masters level: Host-pathogen interactions) (2013- )

  • Course Coordinator of MC5008 (Masters level: Introduction to Microbiology) (2015 - )

  • Course Coordinator of MB5902 (Masters level: MSc research project) (2015 - )


  • Honours Tutor

  • Personal Tutor

  • University of Aberdeen Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body

  • University of Aberdeen Role Analyst for Promotions Committees  

  • Chair of the University of Aberdeen Small Animal Enrichment Committee


Treasurer of International Society for Human and Animal Mycoses (ISHAM) (2012-)

Honorary Treasurer of the British Society for Medical Mycology (BSMM) (2004-2012)

Journal Editor: Medical Mycology

Ad hoc reviewer for international journals: Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Cellular Microbiology, Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, FEMS Microbiology Letters, FEMS Microbiology Reviews, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, International Journal of Nanomedicine, Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Journal of Clinical Microbiology, Journal of Medical Microbiology, Microbiology, Medical Mycology, Molecular Oral Microbiology, Mycopathologia, Mycoses, Mycological Research, and PLoS One.

Book Reviewer: Society for General Microbiology

Grant reviewer: Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).



Research Overview

My research has centred on investigating fungal pathogenesis and virulence, focussing mainly on the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans and mouse models of infection.  It also addresses the 3Rs: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animals in research, refining infection models and developing new ways to follow infection in animals.

Initially, my research focussed on investigating pathogenesis from the fungal perspective, using experimental infection models to assay the contribution of fungal gene products in virulence. I have also used microarray analyses to compare gene expression in known virulent and attenuated C. albicans clinical isolates, demonstrating that there are few differences under laboratory conditions (Eukaryotic Cell, 2009).

More recently, my research has extended into examining host responses, particularly immune responses, during infection in mice. By examining host responses to different C. albicans clinical isolates, I have demonstrated that low virulence isolates stimulate a lower innate immune response than more virulent isolates and that it is the early host response that determines infection outcome (PLoS One, 2009). A study to determine the early renal transcriptional response during progressive C. albicans infection confirmed the massive induction of innate immune responses (FEMS Yeast Research, 2009).

My major goal is to gain a better understanding of the factors leading to susceptibility to opportunistic fungal infections and to identify crucial events occurring during infection development, which could potentially allow identification of novel clinical management or therapeutic strategies for these infections. 

Current Research

Current Staff

  • Ms. Hazel Bell (Technician)

Current PhD Students

MacCallum PhD students at HPF2019

  • Ms Ambre Chapuis (co-supervisor Dr Liz Ballou)
  • Dr Dora Corzo Leon (co-supervisor Dr Carol Munro)
  • Mr Stylianos Simantirakis 
  • Ms Helen Heaney (Main supervisor: Professor Al Brown)
  • Mr Dan Larcombe (Main supervisor: Professor Al Brown)

Completed PhD Students

  • Dr Simon Vautier (co-supervised with Professor Gordon Brown) (2013)
  • Dr Edina Szabo (primary supervisor) (2014)
  • Dr Shane Smith (co-supervised with Dr Carol Munro) (2014)
  • Dr Beatrice Achen (Main Supervisor: Professor Janet Quinn, Newcastle University)
  • Dr Chibuike Ibe (Main supervisor: Professor Carol Munro)
  • Dr Prashant Sood (Main supervisor: Professor Al Brown)

Research Funding and Grants

  • Magical Mushrooms and Frightening Fungi primary school art competition.  MRC Festival Award (2017)

  • Royal Society Partnership Grant with Gilcomstoun Primary School to develop a science club (2016)

  • Opening doors: the 3Rs in medical science.  NC3Rs public engagement award (2016)

  • Micacle Microbes: our gut's hidden workers.  Microbiology Society public engagement award (2016)

  • Wellcome Trust WTSA PhD studentship – (with Professor Al Brown (lead) and Professor Gordon Brown) (2015-2018). 

  • Reducing animal use in antifungal drug development: iRFP reporter strains and imaging fungal infection. 3 year PhD studentship: National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) (2015)

  • Pilot Project: Live real-time imaging of life-threatening invasive fungal infections. National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) (2012/2013)

  • Microbes and Germ Busting. Society for General Microbiology (SGM). Public Engagement with Microbiology Award (2011)

  • An in vitro model system to assay kidney-pathogen interactions determining outcome of Candida albicans infection. National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) 4 Year PhD studentship (2010-2014)

  • Hydrogen peroxide signalling in Candida albicans. Wellcome Trust project grant (with Dr Jan Quinn (lead), Newcastle University) (2010-2013)

  • Investigating in vivo expression of Candida albicans cell surface proteins as diagnostic tools and biomarkers in clinical invasive fungal infections. University of Aberdeen Research Pump Priming Initiative (with Dr Carol Munro) (2009)


Teaching Responsibilities

Postgraduate Teaching Lead for the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition


Co-ordinator Roles

  • Year co-ordinator for the Medical Biosciences masters courses
  • MSc Microbiology Programme Coordinator
  • MSc Immunology Programme Coordinator
  • MSc Genetics Programme Coordinator
  • MRes Medical Mycology Programme Coordinator
  • MC5008 Course Coordinator
  • MB5516 Course Coordinator
  • MB5902 Course Co-coordinator

Undergraduate Teaching

  • BI20M3 Molecular Biology of the Gene
  • MC3504 Molecular Microbiology
  • IM3502 Applied Immunology - Human Health
  • GN3502 Genetics
  • Honours Immunology
  • Honours Microbiology
  • Honours Project Supervisor

MSc Teaching

  • MSc Microbiology
  • MSc Immunology
  • MSc Genetics
  • MRes Medical Mycology
  • MSc/MRes Research Project supervisor


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