Associate Professor Julianne (Julie) Djordjevic is head of the Fungal Pathogenesis Group at the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology (CIDM).

Having completed her PhD at the University of Queensland investigating the molecular basis of atherosclerosis (1995), she has a background in molecular biology and biochemistry. She also has experience in immunology and HIV pathogenesis. In 2005, she was appointed to a tenured position as head of the Fungal Pathogenesis Group where she has established her professional career, obtaining 3 NHMRC project grants as CIA, 4 NHMRC grants as CIB/C, 10 seed/bridging grants as CIA and a NSW Health PhD Partnership Program grant with Industry (2020) to carry out antifungal drug discovery.

Her group’s major research discoveries include characterization of the fungal phosphate acquisition (PHO) pathway and determination of its critical role in promoting fungal pathogenesis and fatal fungal meningitis.

Other findings include elucidation of how the pan-fungal virulence factor, phospholipase B, is released from fungal cells and how fungal cells adapt to host temperature via the calcineurin-responsive transcription factor, Crz1, and one of its targets, the neuronal calcium sensor protein, Nsc1 (collaboration with the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul Brazil).

In recent collaborations with University College London and the Leibniz Institute, her group characterised the phospholipase C-dependent inositol polyphosphate biosynthesis pathway and the role of one of its metabolic products in “switching-on” phosphate acquisition in pathogenic fungi. This received media coverage and led to 2 ABC interviews concerning the rise of certain fungal infections in Covid-19 patients.


Host-fungus interaction, molecular pathogenesis, phosphate homeostasis, signal transduction, molecular interactions, transcriptional and cell cycle regulation, drug discovery.


Infection and Immunological Conditions

Clinical Specialty

Infection and Immunity

Research Focus

Invasive fungal diseases pose a serious threat to human health, killing as many people as tuberculosis and malaria and more than breast cancer. Aspergillus, Candida and Cryptococcus species are among the most prevalent invasive fungal pathogens and Mucorales species are prevalent in patients with both severe COVID (requiring steroid therapy) and diabetes. Using Cryptococcus as a model, we aim to better understand how fungi cause disease and to identify new targets for urgently needed antifungal drug development.

A major research interest in our laboratory is understanding how inositol polyphosphate metabolites regulate functions essential for fungi to infect and spread within a human host. In a collaboration with University College London, our lab was the first to characterise the inositol polyphosphate biosynthesis pathway in a fungal pathogen of medical significance (Cryptococcus neoformans) and show how central this pathway is to fungal virulence using macrophage and mouse infection models.

In collaboration with the Leibniz Institute in Berlin, we aim to identify all proteins that interact with inositol polyphosphates and the consequences that disrupting these molecular interactions has on fungal virulence.

We also have a number of antifungal drug discovery collaborations with Sydney Analytical (Drug Discovery Initiative), Monash University, Western Sydney Local Health District, University of North Carolina and CSIRO, which have led to a provisional patent (#2020902700) licenced to an Australian biotechnology company and two records of invention.

Other Affiliations

  • Western Sydney Local Health District, University of Sydney (Undergraduate guest Lecturer “Fungi and Clinical Disease” SOMS, since 2010)

Awards and Recognition

  • Organizing committee: Inositol polyphosphates-even more the merrier” 2nd International meeting (2021-2022)
  • Drug Discovery Initiative (Sydney ID) member, University of Sydney (2021-)
  • Chair program organising committee: Yeast products and Discovery scientific meeting, University of Sydney (2019)
  • Professional member of the Australian Society for Microbiology (2019 -)
  • Theme Leader: Fungisphere “Host-pathogen interactions” Sydney ID research node (2018-)
  • NHMRC grant recipient (As CIA: 2010, 2014, 2020)
  • NHMRC grant review panellist (x3).
  • CHAIR WIMR grant advisory and mentoring committee (2015-2017)
  • Member of the WIMR Faculty and Career Development Committee (2014-)
  • Vice President of the Australasian Mycological Society (2014-2015)
  • A/Editor “Frontiers in Microbiology” IF 5.64 (Current)
  • Editor “Microorganisms” IF 3.86 (Current)
  • Editor “Journal of Fungi” IF 5.8 (Current)
  • Westmead Institute Science Prize recipient (X5)


  • BSc, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, UQLD, Brisbane
  • BSc (Hons 1A) Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, UQLD, Brisbane
  • PhD, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, UQLD, Brisbane