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Dept. of Infectious Disease Epidemiology,

St Mary's Campus, Imperial College London,

Norfolk Place, W2 1PG

UK

realfisherlab@gmail.com

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Lab Members

For a full list of publications, please click on a photo.

Prof. Mat Fisher, Professor of Fungal Disease Epidemiology

My research uses an evolutionary framework to investigate the biological and environmental factors that are driving emerging fungal diseases in human, wildlife and plant species. Wildlife species play a key role in the emergence of human emerging infectious diseases (EID) by providing a 'zoonotic pool' from which previously unknown pathogens emerge. Conversely, human action impacts on patterns of disease by perturbation of natural systems, introduction and spread of pathogenic fungi. Current projects focus on several human HIV-associated fungal pathogens, significantly Penicillium marneffei  in Southeast Asia and Cryptococcus neoformans worldwide. The emergence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis  and now Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans impacting global amphibian populations has been recognised as a major driver of extinction. Our research group is focused on developing mechanistic, statistical and animal-based models to uncover the factors driving these EIDs and to attempt to develop new methods of control.

Dr. Johanna Rhodes, Post Doctoral Research Fellow

I am currently lead bioinformatician in the Fisher Lab, working on a project grant to identify the evolutionary dynamics of multiazole resistance in Aspergillus fungi. My role involves generating bioinformatic pipelines for assembling next-generation sequence data from clinical and environmental isolates collected from around the globe. I also perform statistical genetic, phylodynamic and evolutionary analyses on these data.

I am also interested in improving methods of diagnosis of the newly emerged, drug resistant fungi Candida auris using nanopore sequencing technology from Oxford Nanopore Technologies.

Dr. Thomas Sewell, Research Associate

My research uses next-generation DNA sequencing to investigate the ecology and evolution of fungi, specifically emerging fungal pathogens. Currently, I am using genomics to research the ecology and evolution of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) lineages. We hope to use the long-read sequencing technology to better determine the relationship between Bd lineages, and the mechanisms that have driven their evolution. My previous research combined fungal genetics, epidemiology and applied population genetics to elucidate the evolution of antimicrobial resistance in environmental Aspergillus fumigatus populations. 

 

Dr. Kieran Bates, Visiting Researcher

My research focuses on identifying the drivers that underpin patterns of infection dynamics in amphibian populations infected with Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Much of my work is based on a  long term epidemiological study of amphibian populations from multiple lake systems in the Pyrenees of France and Spain. I am particularly interested in the role that the host skin mucosal metabolite and commensal microbiota play in disease susceptibility. Prior to joining the Fisher lab, I studied Biological Sciences (MSci) at University College London. My PhD is co-supervised with Dr. Trent Garner and Dr. Xavier Harrison at the Institute of Zoology. 

Dr Alireza Abdolrasouli, Visiting Researcher

I obtained an MSc degree in Medical Microbiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London. Following completion of my studies, I worked in Professor David Mabay’s group as a Laboratory Scientific Officer in 2006. I undertook my undergraduate studies in Cell and Molecular Biology in Iran followed by a three year post-graduate programme in Public Health. My MSPH thesis involved investigation of atypical mycobacteria in peripheral lymphadenitis which was carried out in the WHO EMRO collaborating regional reference laboratory in Tehran, Iran. In 2007 I joined the Diagnostic Microbiology Laboratory at the Hammersmith Hospital, London as a Biomedical Scientist. In 2009, I was awarded an honorary visiting researcher position in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunity at the Imperial College London. In 2013, I embarked on a joint multidisciplinary PhD programme at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London under supervision of Dr Darius Armstrong-James and Professor Matthew Fisher to study the epidemiology of azole resistance in human fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. Since 2014, I scientifically and technically lead the diagnostic medical mycology service in a centralised laboratory at the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust based at Charing Cross hospital in London. Moreover, I teach in Infection and Immunity module for medical students at Imperial College. I am an active member of the Royal Society of Biology, British Society of Medical Mycology and Committee member of the British Mycological Society. My main research interests include laboratory diagnosis of invasive fungal infections, emerging fungal pathogens and antifungal drug resistance.

Jennifer Shelton, PhD Student

I've been working in the Fisher group since February 2015. The first two and a half years I spent as a Research Assistant developing a high-throughput next-generation sequencing pipeline to study associations between Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infection and the amphibian skin mycobiome. From October, I have started a PhD surveying air and soil samples collected across England for Aspergillus fumigatus; more specifically the mutations that cause resistance to azole drugs, which are the frontline treatment for aspergillosis. My project is co-supervised by Dr Andrew Singer at NERC's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Wallingford and Dr Marta Blangiardo, also at Imperial College London.

Pria Ghosh, PhD Student

I've been working for the Fisher lab since 2015 after completing my MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College. I'm now researching the ecological interactions of Bd lineages, with a particular focus on BdGPL and BdCAPE in South Africa. My interest is in establishing whether lineages are co-existing or competing with each other when they meet in a host population with a view to increasing our understanding of how the movement of pathogen strains around the world could impact disease epidemiology. My PhD is co-supervised by Kris Murray (Imperial College London) and Ché Weldon (North-West University, South Africa).

Hannah Edwards, PhD Student

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Phil Jervis, PhD Student

I have been involved with the Fisher Lab since the start of my MRes Tropical Forest Ecology research project in January 2017. My research is focussed around using the activities of amphibian toxins to explain discrepancies in resilience to infectious disease and predation at both individual and population levels. This research will be applied to ex situ populations of amphibians held at the Panama Amphibian Research and Conservation project with an aim to increase the resilience of Bd susceptible animals prior to their reintroduction to the wild.

This project is in collaboration with Dr. Brian Gratwicke ad the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. I am co-supervised by Prof. Trent Garner (Institute of Zoology) and Prof. Alethea Tabor (University College London).

Lola Brookes, PhD Student

I have been working with Mat Fisher since 2014 when I started as a NERC funded technician at the Institute of Zoology looking at the evolution, origins and pathogenesis of the Bd lineages. A lot of this work involved experimentally exposing amphibians to the chytrid pathogen and I began to ask questions on the health and welfare of the animals involved. Having not found the answers to my questions in literature and policy, I have now undertaken a PhD project with Prof. Trent Garner at the Institute of Zoology, co-supervised by Dr. Siobhan Abeyesinghe at Royal Veterinary Colleges and Prof. Mat Fisher. My PhD is funded by the NC3Rs and I aim to address how we can refine our procedures to reduce pain and suffering with the overarching aim of reducing the severity levels of our experiments. I also hope to identify replacement models and reduction opportunities where we can use fewer animals per experiment.

Amelie Brackin, Research Technician

I have been providing laboratory support for the Aspergillus fumigatus research projects since 2018. I am responsible for the preservation and organisation of our fungal isolate collection which currently holds thousands of isolates from across the globe dating back to 1919. My role has allowed me to undertake environmental sampling to determine the prevalence of azole resistance in A. fumigatus populations. In the lab I isolate and culture A. fumigatus from environmental and clinical samples to be included in our fungal library. I extract the DNA from the isolates for molecular identification using ITS barcoding and whole-genome sequence analysis.

Alumnus - Claudia Wierzbicki, Research Assistant

I've been working with the Fisher group since September 2016, as research assistant on the amphibian skin microbiome project. I was lucky to spend my first two weeks in the job on a field trip to Madagascar in an attempt to isolate Bd. I previously worked as a research assistant in zebrafish developmental genetics, and as the core technician and manager for the zebrafish genomics facility, both at UCL. My interest in wildlife conservation led me to complete a postgraduate diploma in Endangered Species Recovery based in Mauritius in 2014, during which I developed field skills working with Durrell and the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation on successful reptile and avian species recovery projects.

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