- PhD The Molecular Analysis of Chitin Synthesis in Candida albicans1997 - University of Aberdeen
- BSc Biochemistry1993 - University of AberdeenFirst Class Hons
Deputy Editor-In-Chief of FEMS Yeast Research.
FEMS delegate for the Microbiology Society
Microbiology Society Impact & Influence Committee
Honorary member of British Society for Medical Mycology
My research is focussed on investigating fungi that cause life-threatening and multi-drug resistant infections in humans with impaired immune function. I investigate the role of the fungal cell wall in interactions with the host and have built up expertise in cell wall biochemistry, proteomics and microscopy approaches to gain a deeper understanding of how the cell wall is built and maintained. My work has focused mainly on Candida albicans but I have also worked with a wider range of pathogens including several other Candida species, including Candida glabrata and Candida auris, Aspergillus fumigatus, Malassezia sympodialis, Exophilia, Fusarium, Trichophyton, Rhizopus and Sporothrix species.
The cell wall is an excellent target for new therapies containing many fungal-specific components that are not found in the human host. I am motivated to develop novel therapeutics that target the cell wall and in collaboration with Scottish Biologics Facility have developed fungal cell wall targeting antibodies that are protective in fungal infection models. We have recently filed a patent to protect IP of these reagents.
I also study antifungal drug resistance and tolerance and discovered that in response to treatment with the echinocandin class of antifungals, fungi can re-programme their cell walls, upregulating chitin production and reducing drug susceptibility. Alterations in cell wall composition, both polysaccharide and protein abundances can influence host interactions, which we study using live cell imaging of fungal:macrophage interactions. I am also interested in analysing genetic variability amongst clinical fungal isolates in order to understand how genetic variability impacts on cell surface variability and hence interactions with the host and other virulence properties, including host niche-specific fitness. Over the last 4 years my group have developed and utilized novel infection models, for example a skin ex-plant model, a catheterized lab-grown skin model for biofilm -associated infections, a gut epithelium model and tissue organoids. These models allow us to mimic the host environment to study fungal:host interactions and fungal pathogenicity. My group have also constructed genomic platforms to study functional genomics of Candida albicans, providing the wider community with powerful molecur tools to study fungal pathogenesis. At the end of 2020 I opened a Biological Containment Level 3 viral laboratory to work with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, in response to the ongoing pandemic and have set up assays to measure anti-viral activity of compounds and treatments.
I am a partner in the EU-funded HDM-Fun Horizon 2020 Framework Programme 2020-2024 Host directed medicine in invasive fungal infection. https://hdm-fun.eu/
I am a partner in the EU -funded Innovative Training Network FunHoMic (Deciphering the fungus-host-microbiota interplay to improve the management of fungal infections). ESR Ann Kristin Kaune with Dr Alan Walker and ESR Nate Cole https://www.funhomic.eu/en
Modelling Candida albicans infection of the human gut using human intestinal organoid cultures. NC3Rs Phd student Ed Devlin 2019-2022. Co-PI with Dr Silvia Gratz and Dr Donna MacCallum
Can echinocandin-induced tolerance mechanisms promote persistent, drug recalcitrant infections? Gilead Investigator Led Study 2020-2021 PI with Dr Louise Walker
Development of fungal surface targeting antibodies. PhD student Mark Mawer (funded by University of ABerdeen) and Tyng Tan (funded by the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology, University of Exeter) with Dr Soumya Palliyil and Professor Andy Porter (Scottish Biologics Facility)
Drug induced tolerance mechanisms: a driver for fungal persistence? PhD student Mark Peacock (funded by the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology, University of Exeter) with Professor Neil Gow and Dr Alessandra da Silva Dantas
I was a partner in the EU -funded Innovative Training Network OPATHY (From Omics to Patient: Improving Diagnostics of Pathogenic Yeasts) http://www.opathy.eu/ Within this network we developed antifungal drug resistance biomarkers using a proteomics approach.
Dr Neil McCarthy, QMUL - Candida albicans:gut interactions
Dr Christophe D'Enfert Pasteur Institute, France, - C. albicans ORFeome and over-expression library.
Dr Campbell Gourlay, University of Kent - Investigating the role of mitochondrial electron transport chain function in fungal pathogenicity and drug resistance.
Dr Donna MaCallum, University of Aberdeen - Human skin models to study fungal infections.
Dr Silvia Gratz & Donna MacCallum, University of Aberdeen - Gut epithelium and organoid models to study fungal invasion
Dr Soumya Palliyl, Professor Andy Porter, Scottish Biologics Facility - Developing fungal cell surface targeting antibodies.
Dr Annika Scheynius, Karolinska Institute - Malassezia sympodialis interactions with the host.
Funding and Grants
EU FunHoMic Innovative Training Network 2019-2023 “Deciphering the fungus-host-microbiota interplay to improve the management of fungal infections” PI with Dr Alan Walker and Prof Al Brown.
NC3Rs Phd studentship 2019-2022. Modelling Candida albicans infection of the human gut using human intestinal organoid cultures. Co-PI with Dr Silvia Gratz and Dr Donna MacCallum
Gilead Investigator Led Study 2020-2021 Can echinocandin-induced tolerance mechanisms promote persistent, drug recalcitrant infections? PI with Dr Louise Walker
Leverhulme Trust/Royal Society Senior Research Fellowship 2019-2020 Unbiased functional genomics screens for the molecular dissection of Candida albicans pathobiology and cellular morphology.
SULSA Antimicrobial Resistance Seed Funding 2018-2019 Antifungal potential of compounds produced by thermophilic Actinobacteria from compost, upon strains of azole resistant Aspergillus fumigatus. Co-Pi with Dr Gillian Halket, University of Strathclyde.
Wellcome Trust Strategic Award International PhD Scholarship 2014-2018 Investigating the role of mitochondrial electron transport chain function in fungal pathogenicity and drug resistance. Co-PI with Dr Campbell Gourlay, University of Kent.
MRC Case studentship with NovaBiotics Ltd 2013-2017 Novel combination strategies to combat complex respiratory polymicrobial infections associated with cystic fibrosis.
Wellcome Trust Strategic Award Cross-disciplinary PDRA Project Award 2013-2017 Evaluating clinical outcomes to Candida albicans biofilm formation in candidaemia patients. Co-PI with Prof Ramage, University of Glasgow.
EU OPATHY Innovative Training Network 2015-2019 fungal diagnostics.
Wellcome Trust ISSF award 2016-2017 barcode sequencing.
MRC Confidence in Concepts grant 2015-2017 Development of novel biologics-based antifungal therapeutics and diagnostics targeted towards Candida albicans cell surface glycoproteins.
SULSA MSD Postdoctoral grant with Dundee Drug Disovery Unit 2013-2015. Developing chitin synthase inhibitors.
BBSRC Case studentship with NovaBiotics, Prof. Ruth Ross, Prof Tony Ormerod. 2011-2015 Development of a bacterial-skin infection model to optimise the treatment and improve our understanding of persistent infections.
SULSA BioSkape industrial studentship with NovaBiotics Ltd 2010-2014
Antifungal peptide drugs. Knowledge Transfer Partnership with NovaBiotics Ltd 2010-2012
The Candida albicans ORFeome project .Wellcome Trust Biomedical Resources grant 2009-2013 (Lead PI with Dr d'Enfert, Institut Pasteur)
Gilead Sciences sponsored industrial studentships 2006-2010, 2009-2012 (with Professor Gow)
Regulation of the biosynthesis of the cell wall skeleton of Candida albicans. Wellcome Trust project grant 2009-2012 (Co-PI with Professor Gow and Odds)
Antifungal drug screening programme. University of Aberdeen Commercialisation Award 2010
The role of fungal cell wall composition and remodelling in echinocandin drug tolerance and resistance. British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy research grant 2010
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A CO2 sensing module modulates β-1,3-glucan exposure in Candida albicans.mBio, e0189823Contributions to Journals: Articles
Methods for SARS-CoV-2 hospital disinfection, in vitro observations.Infection Prevention in Practice, vol. 6, no. 1, 100339Contributions to Journals: Articles
An integrated transcriptomic and metabolomic approach to investigate the heterogeneous Candida albicans biofilm phenotype.Biofilm, vol. 5, 100112Contributions to Journals: Articles
Mucosal Immunity to Gut Fungi in Health and Inflammatory Bowel DiseaseJournal of Fungi, vol. 9, no. 11, 1105Contributions to Journals: Review articles
Malassezia sympodialis Mala s 1 allergen is a potential KELCH protein that cross reacts with human skinFEMS Yeast Research, vol. 23, foad028Contributions to Journals: Articles
Yeast pathogenesis and drug resistance: the beauty of the BYeastFEMS Yeast Research, vol. 22, no. 1, foac029Contributions to Journals: Editorials
A Human Ex Vivo Skin Model to Study Candida auris BiofilmsMethods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.), vol. 2517, pp. 259-267Contributions to Journals: Articles
Biomarkers of caspofungin resistance in Candida albicans isolates: A proteomic approachVirulence, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 1005-1018Contributions to Journals: Articles
Population genetics and microevolution of clinical Candida glabrata reveals recombinant sequence types and hyper-variation within mitochondrial genomes, virulence genes and drug-targetsGenetics, vol. 221, no. 1, iyac031Contributions to Journals: Articles
Monoclonal antibodies targeting surface exposed epitopes of Candida albicans cell wall proteins confer in vivo protection in an infection modelAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, vol. 66, no. 4, e01957-21Contributions to Journals: Articles