Dr. Elaine Bignell PhD

Reader in Applied Mycology and deputy Director of Manchester Fungal Infection Group

Research Focus

Pathogenicity of the human fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. The aim of Dr. Elaine Bignell her research is to deliver, from molecules - through cells - to living animals, the insight required to design and generate the next generation of anti-fungal therapeutic entities. These might impact pathogen and/or host activities to effect a favourable outcome of disease.

Her group is working to identify crucial sensory and signalling proteins used by Aspergillus fumigatus to withstand stress within the mammalian host environment. Her group is also working with mathematicians to derive a fully quantitative understanding of the host pathogen interaction. This will redefine virulence of this pathogen and also determine the relative contributions of host and pathogen activities to disease within a framework conducive to appropriate intervention.

Scientific Activities

Dr. Elaine Bignell is a Reader in Applied Mycology at the University of Manchester (UoM) and Deputy 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. She has 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 and whole genome transcriptomics analyses.

Dr. Bignell 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. Since 2000, initially funded as an MRC New Investigator, she has worked exclusively to elucidate fungal processes critical to mammalian infection.Major outputs have included the first, and still the only, whole-genome in-host transcriptomic profiles of Aspergillus fumigatus infection.

Current research programmes include mechanistic aspects of calcium-mediated signalling in A. fumigatus (funded by the Wellcome Trust); structure-function analysis of a pH-responsive molecular switch required for fungal virulence (funded by the MRC); a genome-scale census of pathogenicity factors in Aspergillus fumigatus (funded by the MRC); in vitro modelling of host responses to Aspergillus fumigatus infection (funded by The Wellcome Trust).

Significant Publications

Reiko J. Tanaka, Neville J. Boon, Katarina Vrcelj, Anita Nguyen, Carmelina Vinci, Darius Armstrong-James, and Elaine Bignell (2015) In silico modelling of spore inhalation reveals fungal persistence following low dose exposure Scientific Reports 5 Article Number 13958

Bertuzzi M., Schrettl M., Alcazar-Fuoli L., Cairns T., Muñoz A., Walker L., Herbst S., Safari M., Cheverton A., Chen D., Liu H., Saijo S., Fedorova N., Armstrong-James D., Munro C., Read N., Filler S., Espeso E., Nierman W., Haas H., Bignell E. (2014) The pH-Responsive PacC Transcription Factor of Aspergillus fumigatus Governs Epithelial Entry and Tissue Invasion during Pulmonary Aspergillosis. PLoS Pathog 10(10): e1004413.

McDonagh, A., Fedorova, N. D., Crabtree, J., Yu, Y., Kim, S., Chen, D., Loss, O., Cairns, T., Goldman, G., Armstrong-James, D., Haynes, K., Haas, H., Schrettl, M., May, G., Nierman, W. C., Bignell, E. (2008). Sub-telomere directed gene expression during initiation of invasive aspergillosis. PLoS Pathog, 4(9), e1000154.


Contact information

University of Manchester
2.26 Core Technology Facility, Grafton St.
M13 9NT

Email: elaine.bignell@manchester.ac.uk