Dr Donna MacCallum

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

Senior Lecturer

I am currently accepting PhDs in Biomedical Sciences.

Dr Donna MacCallum
Dr Donna MacCallum

Contact Details


Current PhD students

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




FRSB, Biology Royal Society of Biology 2013
FHEA, Education Higher Education Academy 2007
PGCert, Higher Education Teaching and Learning University of Aberdeen 2004
PhD, Microbiology University of Aberdeen 1999
mRNA differential display to investigate yeast-hypha dimorphism in Candida albicans
BSc, Genetics (Honours) University of Aberdeen 1994
First Class

Latest Publications

  • Host responses in an ex-vivo human skin model challenged with Malassezia sympodialis

    Corzo Leon, D. E., MacCallum, D. M., Munro, C. A.

  • Three Related Enzymes in Candida albicans Achieve Arginine- and Agmatine-Dependent Metabolism That Is Essential for Growth and Fungal Virulence

    Schaefer, K., Wagener, J., Ames, R. M., Christou, S., MacCallum, D. M., Bates, S., Gow, N. A. R.

  • The environmental stress sensitivities of pathogenic Candida species, including Candida auris, and implications for their spread in the hospital setting

    Heaney, H., Laing, J., Paterson, L., Walker, A. W., Gow, N. A., Johnson, E. M., MacCallum, D. M., Brown, A. J. P.

  • An ex-vivo human skin model to study superficial fungal infections

    Corzo-Leon, D. E., Munro, C. A., MacCallum, D. M.

  • A Bright Future for Fluorescence Imaging of Fungi in Living Hosts

    Chapuis, A. F., Ballou, E. R., MacCallum, D. M.

View all Publications

Memberships and Affiliations

Prizes and Awards

Honorary membership of the British Society for Medical Mycology (year)

Principal's Prize for Public Engagement (Public Prize) (year)


Research Areas

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Email Me


  • Animal Science
  • Medical Sciences
  • Microbiology
  • Mycology

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

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. 

Knowledge Exchange and Public Engagement

Dr Donna MacCallum is very active in public engagement. 

She has contributed school workshops, public lectures and family activities at the University of Aberdeen May Festival for each of the four years that the festival has run (https://www.abdn.ac.uk/mayfestival/). 

She is a registered STEM ambassador (http://www.stemnet.org.uk/ambassadors/) and has carried out science workshops in schools.  Most recently, she was successful in obtaining a Royal Society Partnership grant with Ms Amanda Kirk of Gilcomstoun Primary School, Aberdeen to carry out a resarch project to investigate whether household cleaners are effective again fungi  (2016) (https://royalsociety.org/grants-schemes-awards/grants/partnership-grants/).  She was also able to contribute towards Gilcomstoun Primary School's science activities, which contributed to their successful Primary Science Quality Mark Gold Award application (2016). 

Dr MacCallum was also awarded one of the first National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) public engagement awards (2016) to talk about how the University of Aberdeen are addressing the 3Rs in their life science research at Doors Open Day 2016 in the Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen.

Dr MacCallum was also successful in being awarded the first Microbiology Society Microbiology in Society Awards (2016) in collaboration with University of Aberdeen Public Engagement Unit (PERU) and Aberdeen Science Centre to produce a new exhibit to explore the human gut microbiota. 

Dr MacCallum has also been awarded a Microbiology Society Public Engagement Award (2010) to carry out "germ busting" with nursery children, where the children were shown effective handwashing and their technique was evaluated using UV lamps and fluorescent hand cream.   

Dr MacCallum recently also designed and ran a Kids Zone workshop for the Killer Fungus exhibit at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London (2016) (https://royalsociety.org/science-events-and-lectures/summer-science-exhibition/). 

She will be taking part in Explorathon 2016 at the Aberdeen Science Centre, explaining the resarch carried out in the Aberdeen Fungal Group at the Kingdom of Fungi exhibit (http://www.explorathon.co.uk/aberdeen/asc).

Doors Open Day - NC3Rs - 2017  Explorathon 2016

Explorathon 2016b  Public Engagement T-shirts

Safety First


My current supervision areas are: Biomedical Sciences.

Current Staff

  • Ms. Hazel Bell (Technician)

Current PhD Students

Donna MacCallum's PhD students at a conference in Nice, France

PhD students: Helen Heaney, Dora Corzo Leon, Ambre Chapuis, Stelmos Simantirakis, Dan Larcombe at the Human Fungal Pathogen course in Nice, France.

  • Mr Stylianos Simantirakis 
  • Ms Helen Heaney (Co-supervised by Dr Alan Walker and University of Exeter's Professor Al Brown)
  • Mr Dan Larcombe (Co-supervised by University of Exeter's 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) (2019)
  • Dr Prashant Sood (Main supervisor: Professor Al Brown)
  • Dr Ambre Chapuis (co-supervisor Dr Liz Ballou) (2020)
  • Dr Dora Corzo Leon (co-supervisor Dr Carol Munro) (2020)


Teaching Responsibilities

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


Co-ordinator Roles

Undergraduate Teaching (lecturing)

Research Project Supervision

  • BSc Honours project supervisor
  • MSc/MRes Research Project supervisor

Non-Course Teaching Responsibilities

Personal Tutor 

Pastoral support for MSc students

University of Aberdeen Postgraduate Taught committee 

University of Aberdeen Directors of Teaching and Learning Group



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