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Overview

Academic Director of the Manchester Fungal Infection Group (MFIG)

Head of Division: Infection, Immunity and Respiratory Medicine

Biography

Elaine Bignell is a Professor of Infection Biology at the University of Manchester (UoM) and Co-Director of the Manchester Fungal Infection Group (MFIG), a multi-million pound venture funded by UoM in 2013 to strengthen understanding of fungal infection biology. EB has > 20 years of experience in molecular genetic manipulation of model and pathogenic fungi and has worked extensively on transcriptional and post-translational regulation of fungal pH signalling. This work contributed directly to a pioneering body of research published in the late 1990s which described, for the first time in fungi, the mechanistic basis of pH-mediated signalling. Since 2000, initially funded as an MRC New Investigator, EB has developed murine models of invasive fungal infections and used them to identify fungal processes critical to mammalian infection, including the first and only in-host transcriptomic profiles of Aspergillus fumigatus pathogenic activities.  Current research programmes include a genome-scale census of pathogenicity factors in Aspergillus fumigatus and effectorsof tissue invasion in A. fumigatus (both funded by the Medical Research Council).

Research interests

The aim of my research is to deliver, from molecules - through cells - to living animals, the insight required to design and generate the next generation of anit-infective therapeutic entities. These might impact pathogen and/or host activites to effect a favourable outcome of disease.  My group is  working to identify crucial sensory, signalling and secreted proteins used by A fumigatus to withstand stress within the host environment and invade the respiratory mucosa.  We are also working with mathematicians to derive a fully quantitative understanding of the host pathogen interactionm which will enable us to redefine fungal pathogenicity according to the relative contributions of host and pathogen activities.  I have accrued a  theoretical and practical working knowledge of whole animal infection modelling, epithelial and macrophage infection assays, fungal classical and molecular genetics, analysis of protein-protein interactions in living fungal cells, whole genome transcriptomics analyses and phenotypic screening.

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

EB is a member of the BBSRC Pool of experts, a founding committee member of the UK Wellcome Trust Strategic Award for Medical Mycology and Immunology, and a member of the Fungal Education and Outreach, and Fungal Biology and Research, Committees of the British Mycological Society.

Member of the British Society for Medical Mycology (BSMM).

 

Qualifications

BSc (Hons) Biochemistry (University of East Anglia)

PhD Molecular Genetics (Imperial College London)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

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