Annual Scientific Meeting

Fungal Interactions

12 - 14 September 2023

The speakers

Elaine Bignell

University of Exeter, UK

Elaine is a Professor of Medical Mycology and a Co-Director (Research) for the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology at the University of Exeter. Her work addresses the mechanistic basis of lung diseases caused by the major mould pathogen of humans, Aspergillus fumigatus. Major contributions to the field have included work on the role of Aspergillus pH sensing in pathogenicity, transcriptional regulation of host adaptation, and the mechanistic basis of tissue invasion during invasive fungal lung disease.

Lynne Boddy

University of Cardiff, UK

Lynne Boddy is a Professor of Fungal Ecology at Cardiff University and has taught and researched the ecology of fungi associated with trees and wood decomposition for over 40 years. Her current studies include the ash dieback fungus, and how climate change is affecting fungi. Lynne regularly communicates fungal science on radio and TV, and is a past president of the British Mycological Society.

Mike Bromley

University of Manchester, UK

Michael is a Professor in Medical Mycology at the University of Manchester and is the Director of the Manchester Fungal Infection Group. His research focuses on drug discovery and drug resistance in fungal pathogens. While working at F2G Ltd and throughout his academic research career he has been involved in the evaluation of the antifungal drug Olorofim. He is currently leading a collaborative project to generate a genome-scale knockout mutant library in the filamentous fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus and is developing and employing functional genomics technologies to understand genetic and environmental drivers of pathogenicity and drug resistance in fungi.


Neil Brown

University of Bath, UK

Neil is a molecular fungal biologist, ex-BBSRC Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the University of Bath. He is motivated to i) discover why toxigenic fungal diseases increasingly threaten our food security and health, and ii) to develop new ways to fight back. This includes understanding how fungal pathogens sense the ‘taste’ of their hosts and if these mechanisms can be used to ‘turn off’ virulence and toxins.

Michael Csukai

Syngenta, UK

Mike received his BSc in Microbiology from the University of Reading before studying for a MSc in Molecular Biology and then a PhD in Genetics at the University of Leicester. He undertook his postdoctoral work in the Dept. of Molecular Pharmacology at Stanford University before moving back to the UK and into an industrial role at Zeneca and then Syngenta. Mike’s work at Syngenta has primarily been focused on the discovery of fungicides and novel fungal control methods; using bioinformatic, genetics, biochemistry and cell biology tools to improve the fundamental understanding of fungal and oomycete plant pathogens.

Alessandra da Silva Dantas

Newcastle University, UK

Alessandra completed her PhD in Biosciences at Newcastle University. She worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Newcastle University and Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, before moving to the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology (first in Aberdeen and then in Exeter. She is a lecturer at Newcastle University Dental School where her lab is interested in determining how ageing heighten stress tolerance in pathogenic yeasts

Jan Dijksterhuis

Westerdijk Institute, The Netherlands

Jan Dijksterhuis encountered an above average number of different fungal species during his career. He studied yeasts, nematode-destroying fungi, biological control, Oomycetes and rust fungi before starting his work at the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute on food - and indoor fungi. Here he worked on numerous projects together with companies and also addressed fungal resistance and resilience as well as the biology of fungal spores. Recently his interest was initiated towards towards the interaction between fungal species and bacteria.

Reinhard Fischer

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

Reinhard studied Biology in Marburg, Germany, followed by a postdoc at the University of Athens, Georgia, USA with Professor Bill Timberlake, from where he returned to Marburg. In 2004 he was appointed as associate professor and later as full professor at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). He works on secondary metabolism and light sensing in Aspergillus nidulans and Alternaria alternata and with the nematode-trapping fungus Arthrobotrys flagrans. 

Ester Gaya

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK

Ester discovered her passion for fungi during her undergrad and PhD at the University of Barcelona (Spain), where she focused on lichen taxonomy and systematics. During her postdoctoral research position at Duke University (US), she developed an interest on evolutionary biology and phylogenetic methods, which she tested on lichens using an empirical approach. Since she moved to RBG Kew, she has expanded her area of research to almost all major groups of fungi and has transitioned into phylogenomics and comparative genomics approaches which she applies to her favourite group of organisms.

Nina Gunde-Cimerman

University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Research of prof. Nina Gunde-Cimerman, Chair of Molecular Genetics and Biology of Microorganisms,  has been dedicated for the last 20 years to extremophilic fungi. Initially, in hypersaline environments, such as salterns around the world, later in Arctic glaciers and Ice sheets and in extreme household environments, eg dishwashers, one common denominator being low water activity. Gradually she established the world’s largest strain bank of extremophilic fungi (Ex), with more than 17.000 strains.


Ilse Jacobsen

Hans Knöll Institute, Germany

Ilse studied Veterinary Medicine in Germany and South Africa before doing a PhD in Microbiology. Her lab is interested in Candida albicans as both a commensal and pathogen, investigating fungal-bacterial interactions, gut colonization, and systemic candidiasis.

David Johnson

University of Manchester, UK

Professor David Johnson is Chair in Soil Microbial Ecology at The University of Manchester, having moved there in 2017 after spending 12 years at Aberdeen University. He obtained his PhD and completed postdocs at the University of Sheffield. His research covers various aspects of terrestrial ecosystem ecology, but a key focus is on the biology of mycorrhizal fungi.

Nancy Keller

University of Wisconsin, USA

Nancy P. Keller explores the roles and consequences of fungal secondary metabolism in diverse ecological settings from fungal pathogenesis of humans and plants to composition of microbial communities in food commodities. Her lab is renowned for characterizing fungal natural products and elucidating endogenous and synthetic regulation of these chemicals. 

Tajalli Keshavavarz

University of Westminster, UK

Tajalli is Professor Emeritus at the University of Westminster. His research interest is in microbial/cross kingdom communication (interaction), and his general interest is philosophy and literature.

Carol Munro

University of Aberdeen, UK

Carol’s research group investigates how fungal cell surface components contribute to virulence, host interactions and antifungal drug tolerance and resistance. Her group takes a number of approaches to study factors that contribute to pathogenicity and fitness such as proteomics, functional genomics, genome sequencing, high throughput phenotypic analysis and uses a range of cellular and ex vivo infection models. Together with partners at the Scottish Biologics Facility, Carol is also developing novel biologics-based antifungal therapeutics that target the fungal cell surface.

Anne Pringle

University of Wisconsin, USA

Anne is the Mary Herman Rubinstein Professor of Botany and Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and grew up overseas. Having moved more or less constantly throughout her childhood, she became obsessed with dispersal and movement and now studies invasive nonpathogenic fungi.

Sylvain Raffaele

INRAE, France

Sylvain is group leader at the INRAE laboratory for plant-microbe-environment interaction studies (LIPME) in Toulouse, France. His research focuses on plant interactions with fungal pathogens in various environments, mostly from a molecular and genomics perspective.

Johanna Rhodes

Radboudumc, The Netherlands

After completing her PhD in host gene regulatory networks activated in response to fungal infection at the University of Warwick, Jo moved to Imperial College London to research the pathogen itself, and focus on human infection. Her research has focused on three of the four WHO Critical Priority Group fungal pathogens: Cryptococcus neoformans, Candida auris and Aspergillus fumigatus. Now at Radboudumc in the Netherlands as a PI, Jo’s research group uses a One Health approach to balance and optimise the health of humans, animals and the environment.

Jason Rudd

Rothamsted Research, UK

Jason is a Molecular Plant Pathologist who has led research on the Zymoseptoria tritici vs wheat crop disease interaction for > 15 years, based at Rothamsted Research, UK. Prior to this he was employed on an EU project based in Germany studying pathogen manipulation of plant immunity. His PhD and earlier studies focussed on the regulation of plant reproduction, and was based at the University of Birmingham, UK.

Jane Usher

University of Exeter, UK

Jane is a BBSRC Discovery Fellow at the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology at the University of Exeter. Her research focuses on the human fungal pathogen Candida glabrata and how it can combat stress resistance from both exogenous and host sources. Using a tapestry of molecular tools Jane is identifying the critical genes invovled in stress resistance and characterising their mechanisms.