Manchester team to lead the world on fungal infection research

14 Aug 2013

The University of Manchester has invested in building a world-leading research group to tackle a problem that is largely unrecognised yet affects millions of people each year.

Aspergillus in the eye of a teenager who also had it in his brain.
Aspergillus in the eye of a teenager who also had it in his brain.

Globally and annually, over 300 million people suffer from serious fungal infections, resulting in 1,350,000 deaths – many of which are unavoidable.

Most serious fungal infections are hidden, occurring as a consequence of other health problems such as asthma, AIDS, cancer or organ transplants. Delays or missed diagnosis often lead to death, serious chronic illness or blindness.

Now, the newly formed multidisciplinary Manchester Fungal Infection Group (MFIG) hopes to make a difference with the recruitment of three leading experts from Edinburgh and London.

Professor Nick Read has moved from Edinburgh University and leads the group, while Dr Elaine Bignell from Imperial College, London, has been appointed as a Reader, and Dr Mike Bromley as a lecturer. Manchester senior lecturers, Dr Paul Bowyer and Peter Warn will also join the MFIG and will work alongside the already thriving research and teaching teams of Professors David Denning and Malcolm Richardson, and Dr Riina Richardson, to form this pioneering Group.

Professor Nick Read is an internationally-renowned fungal cell biologist with over 30 years of research experience and has pioneered the use of advanced live-cell imaging techniques with many fungi, including human pathogens.

Professor Read said: “The opportunity to develop cutting-edge, multidisciplinary science in the relatively neglected but extremely important topic of fungal infection will be internationally unique and I am very excited to be able to join and lead this team of talented scientists in Manchester.”

The focus of the MFIG going forward is developing a profound understanding of the biology of the mechanistic basis of Aspergillus* fungal infection, identifying new antifungal drugs and human genetic risk profiling. The team will also work with the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC) a partnership between The University of Manchester and six NHS Trusts which helps health care organisations reap the benefits of research and innovation to drive improvements in care.

Professor Ian Jacobs, University of Manchester Vice President and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Human Sciences added: “I am excited by the combination of strong clinical leadership, exemplified by the National Aspergillosis Centre, and internationally competitive science, which these new appointments bring. This fits perfectly with the strategy of our Faculty to develop outstanding science in to health benefit. MFIG can have an impact in the UK and internationally in a neglected area which is responsible for enormous suffering and over a million deaths every year.’’

ENDS

Notes for editors

For more information please contact Alison Barbuti | Media Relations Officer | Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences |The University of Manchester Tel. +44 (0)161 275 8383| Mobile 07887 561 318 |Email: alison.barbuti@manchester.ac.uk<mailto:alison.barbuti@manchester.ac.uk>

*Aspergillus is a species of fungus (mould). Several different types occur widely in the environment. They invade and colonise vegetable matter, especially when wet and/or rotting. The organisms grow to produce tiny filaments, or fibres, and reproduce by making tiny spores.

Professor Nick Read is an internationally renowned fungal cell biologist and has pioneered the use of advanced live-cell imaging techniques with many fungi, including human pathogens. His current research interests are primarily focused on calcium signaling during fungal pathogenesis and on antifungal peptides.

Dr Elaine Bignell has made unparalled contributions to the understanding of life-threatening fungal infections of the lung, caused by Aspergillus, with highly innovative molecular approaches.

Dr Mike Bromley has discovered several new potential antifungal drug targets, which are critically important as azole resistance emerges throughout the world, and new antifungal drugs are urgently required.

Manchester already hosts the National Aspergillosis Centre, the Mycology Reference Centre Manchester, the Aspergillus Website andtranslational research group. Several spinout companies have emerged from the group including F2G (Denning and Bromley), Myconostica (Denning), Euprotec (Warn), Genon (Bromley) and Alergenetica (Bowyer). For further information, also see:

www.life-worldwide.org
www.aspergillus.org.uk
www.nationalaspergillosiscentre.org.uk/ 

The University of Manchester

The University of Manchester, a member of the Russell Group, is one of the largest and most popular universities in the UK. It has 20 academic schools and hundreds of specialist research groups undertaking pioneering multi-disciplinary teaching and research of worldwide significance. According to the results of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, The University of Manchester is one of the country’s major research institutions, rated third in the UK in terms of ‘research power’. The University has an annual income of £807 million and is ranked 40th in the world and fifth in the UK for the quality of its teaching and impact of its research.

MAHSC (the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre) is a partnership between the University of Manchester and six NHS organisations. Our NHS partners are some of the most highly rated NHS Trusts in the country, and The University of Manchester is one of the top three UK research universities (RAE 2008). We are proud to be one of only five centres in the country designated as an AHSC. AHSC designation recognises excellence across research, innovation, education and patient service, and in particular the potential to excel in translational medicine. Through partnership with the GM AHSN, MAHSC acts as a beacon within the local health system, providing clinical leadership and helping health care organisations reap the benefits of research and innovation to drive improvements in care.