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Underlying mechanisms leading to fungal diseases, Manchester Fungal Infection Group

School of Biological Sciences PGT Recruitment Lead

PGT Unit Lead: Grant application writing (MRes Infection Biology), Immunology Research Skills Masterclass (MSc Clinical Immunology), Application of Genomics in Infectious Diseases (MSc Genomic Medicine)

Research interests

  • Molecular mechanisms of fungal disease
  • Genetic susceptibility factors to fungal disease
  • New risk factors for fungal disease
  • Diagnostics


Sara Gago is a Research Fellow in the field of fungal diseases with extensive links in the Infectious Diseases clinical community to facilitate clinical translation of research findings. She has 10 years’ experience in developing experimental models to define host and pathogen factors leading to fungal disease and the molecular tests to detect them. This translational research is globally appreciated as evidenced by contributions to the WHO list of essential medicines, election as vice-president of the International Society of Human and Animal Mycology (ISHAM), invitations to present at national and international meetings, consultancy with industry and invitations to editorial boards. As an NC3Rs training fellow she described the first host transcription factor that provides a regulatory defence against fungal colonisation of the respiratory airways. More recently, she has built upon her portfolio of innovative assays to define the role of fungal factors for viral replication within the lung epithelium, which have been pivotal for her appointment as co-infection theme lead in the Manchester Fungal Infection Group (MFIG). 

Her research has continued on an upward trajectory evidenced by high impact publications and awarded grants. Her research outputs have had a significant academic and clinical impact, including contributions to the diagnostics guidelines for chronic pulmonary aspergillosis and transference of rapid diagnostic tests to Infectious Diseases units.

Prizes and awards

2017 -2019 NC3Rs Training Fellowship


2014 PhD in Biological Sciences, Universidad Complutense, Instituto de Salud Carlos III (Madrid, Spain)

2010 MSc Microbiology and Parasitology (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain)

2009 High Education teaching certificate (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain)

2008 Bachelor in Biology (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain)



Unit Lead, Grant Application Writing (MRes Infection Biology).

Unit Lead, Research Skills Masterclass (MSc Clinical Immunology)

Unit Lead, Application of Genomics to Infectious diseases (MSc Genomics Medicine)


PBL Tutor (Semestre 3)



My research is focused on translating fundamental insights in the pathogenesis of fungal diseases into improvements in patient care. Initially trained on the epidemiology and diagnosis of fungal disease I became fascinated by how genetic susceptibility factors might condition the development of these complex diseases.

My scientific production has had a strong impact in health polices and clinical practise that can be summarised as follows.

World health organisation policy: I was part of the small team that provided the evidence base for natamycin, voriconazole and itraconazole to be added to the WHO essential medicine list (2016). Linked to this, I have described mutations associated with antifungal resistance (Gago,Mycoses 2017) and developed molecular diagnostics to facilitate their detection (Bernal-Martinez,JCM 2017).

Clinical definitions from patients living with fungal disease: I was a member of the expert panel involved in the definitions of clinical and diagnostic criteria for chronic pulmonary aspergillosis in low-resource settings (Denning,EID 2018). This is critically important since the definitions in current clinical guidelines include diagnostic and clinical procedures that are not always available.

Diagnostic tests: I have developed several real-time based tests for the diagnosis of fungal infections (Gago JCM, DMID and Med Mycol 2014, Fortun JAC 2011, Gago BCM Microb 2013, Gago JCM 2011). Three of these techniques have UNE-ISO 15189 certification for their use as diagnostic and are included in the services offered by the Spanish Medical Mycology reference laboratory to the National Health System. I have also demonstrated the prognostic value of a mutation in a host transcription factor for fungal colonisation (Gago, Nat Comms 2018).


Memberships of committees and professional bodies

Vice-President of the International Society of Human and Animal Mycology (Since 2018)

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 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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