Fungal diseases are a growing global health problem and a leading cause of blindness, meningitis and death, but this area is under-researched worldwide.
We are one of the few groups in Australia researching the molecular and cell biology of fungi. Our understanding of the mechanisms these organisms use to cause disease is leading to the design of urgently needed new drugs that can effectively combat serious fungal infections.
Our focus is the AIDS-related fungus, Cryptococcus neoformans, the world’s most common cause of fungal meningitis, causing an estimated 600,000 deaths each year. Studying Cryptococcus helps us understand how fungi, in general, cause disease.
Our laboratory has established reliable methods for manipulating the cryptococcal genome and for studying fungal cells at the molecular level. Using these methods, we have identified a fungal pathway that may potentially be blocked by drugs. We have a collaboration with University College London to identify molecules that may block this pathway and prevent this fungus from causing meningitis.