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The need for a dedicated unit to tackle fungal disease in Africa

The major burden of serious invasive fungal infection is borne by low and middle income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where around 50% of people diagnosed with invasive fungal infections die as a result of the infection.

To address this issue, the Universities of Exeter and Cape Town (UCT) have joined forces to create the world’s first international research centre for tackling fungal infections; the AFGrica Unit, which opened in Cape Town in August 2017. The University of Exeter AFGrica Unit, directed by Professor Gordon Brown, is based at UCT’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, headed by Professor Valerie Mizrahi, and will give our experts a centre of operations in Africa where they can work in collaboration with UCT experts to establish research programmes that can target the priority areas in fungal diseases that are relevant to the African continent.

Dr J. Claire Hoving is a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellow in Public Health and Tropical Medicine and Senior Lecturer in the Division of Immunology, whose research aims at understanding host immune responses to HIV-related fungal infections. As an Associate Member of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine and a contributing investigator of the Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa, her current major focus is understanding the immune response to Pneumocystis jirovecii, which is a common cause of pneumonia and death in patients with HIV/AIDS in Africa and which is estimated to kill over 250 000 worldwide every year.

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Dr Rachael Dangarembizi is an early career neuroscientist in the Department of Human Biology and the Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cape Town whose main research interest is neuroimmune responses to fungal infections. Her current research focusses on the inflammatory response to Cryptococcus neoformans infection in the brain. 

3rd Workshop on AIDS-related Mycoses  |  10th - 12th July 2019  |  Institute of Infection Disease and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

At the 2019 meeting, we focused on highlighting the continuing problem of advanced HIV and the contribution of mycoses to AIDS deaths. We expanded the range of disease covered and discussed the latest advances and the challenges facing our field. The programme included public health, novel prevention and treatment strategies, basic science of host-pathogen interactions, immunology, antifungal resistance and genomics.

Read more on the course in Hoving et al. AIDS-Related Mycoses: Updated Progress and Future Priorities (2019). Trends in Microbiology 28 (6): 425-428. 


Lecture and Practical Course in Medical Mycology  |  10th - 14th December 2018  |  Institute of Infection Disease and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Aims. The AFGrica Unit, Institute Pasteur, Paris, and the AMBITION-cm Trial Consortium organised a week-long English-speaking course for scientists and clinitians aimed at providing a comprehensive overview of Medical Mycology. This lecture and practical course focused on the key fungal pathogens in Africa and covered the microbiological, immunological and clinical aspects of fungal diseases.

Lecture topics. Overview of host immunity and fungal pathogens, mechanisms of action of antigungal drugs and drug resistance, sessions of the physiopathology and management of the major pathogenic fungi present in Africa, with a specific focus on Cryptococcosis.

Practical topics. Basic techniques in teh mycology laboratory, identification, diagnosis and histopathology of major pathogenic fungi, clinical case vignetter and how to be involved and manage clinical trials.

Audience. 32 attendees: 16 clinicians + 16 lab scientists / lab technicians

  • 12 AMBITION sites delegates

  • 4 DREAMM sites delegates

  • 16 additional delegates (scientists or clinicians based in Africa – selected among 57 applications)

Teaching Team

  • MRC Centre for Medical Mycology (MRC CMM): Prof Gordon Brown, Prof Adilia Warris, Prof Carol Munro.

  • Institut Pasteur, Paris: Prof Olivier Lortholary, Dr Alexandre Alanio, Dr Timothée Boyer Chammard, Dr Dea Garcia-Hermoso, Aude Sturny-Leclère.

  • Wellcome Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Africa (CIDRI-Africa) and AFGrica Unit: Dr Claire Hoving, Prof Graeme Meintjes.

  • London School Hygiene and Tropical Medicine: Prof Joe Jarvis, Dr David Lawrence.

  • St Georges Hospital, University College London: Prof Tom Harrison, Dr Angela Loyse, Dr Tihana Bicanic.

  • National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Johannesburg: Dr Nelesh Govender.

  • Douala General Hospital/National Public Health Laboratory, Yaounde: Dr Elvis Temfack.