Strategic need and vision
The impact of fungal infections on human morbidity and mortality is immense, but not widely appreciated. Fungal infections kill over 1.5 million people every year but remain critically understudied. Consequently, there is a pressing need for more research in this field to improve patient outcome. We need better diagnostics, safer and more effective antifungal drugs, and a better understanding of fungal virulence and antifungal immunity. The global lack of capacity in basic and clinical mycology is a major contributing factor that is hindering our ability to tackle these challenges. In 2016, the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology (MRC CMM) was established at the University of Aberdeen to address this strategic need. In 2019, the MRC CMM relocated to the University of Exeter to take advantage of considerable benefits for investment, expansion, future potential and long-term sustainability. This allowed the Centre to grow and strengthen in key areas including immunology, microbiology and clinical mycology. This has enabled the initiation of novel interdisciplinary research and training programmes aimed at tackling these challenges and at increasing UK capacity in basic and clinical research. Moreover this growth has substantially enhanced the Centre’s cutting-edge interdisciplinary research activities and enabled significant underpinning of its training programmes, which are addressing the capacity deficit in this field.
Our overarching scientific mission is to deliver world-leading research that will substantially advance our understanding of fungal pathogenesis, host immunity and disease phenotypes, thereby enabling the generation and utilisation of skills and knowledge that will improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of fungal diseases in the future. We have the following objectives over the next five years:
- To promote innovative interdisciplinary research that tackles the major challenges facing the field, facilitated by the recruitment of two outstanding scientists in key areas of antifungal drug resistance and in infectious co-morbidities;
- To increase capacity in medical mycology in the UK and globally, by delivering a strong cohort of basic and clinical researchers in medical mycology through excellent training programmes focussed at different stages of career development;
- To support global efforts to tackle devastating fungal infections, by establishing and strengthening research and training Units in low and middle income regions of the world which lack bespoke expertise and suffer high burdens of fungal disease;
- To promote medical mycology and the activities of the Centre through an ambitious programme of engagement that seeks to inspire future medical mycologists and to challenge and change public perceptions of fungal disease.