The Bhagirath Singh Early Career Award in Infection and Immunity 2018 Recipient

Dr. Rebecca S Shapiro

CRISPR-based genetic interactions analysis in a fungal pathogen: new approaches for identifying antifungal drug targets

Combating infectious diseases and drug-resistant microbial pathogens is one the most important global health challenges being faced today - in Canada, and throughout the world. Understanding the biological mechanisms underscoring microbial virulence and resistance to antimicrobial agents is of critical and immediate importance. Pathogenic fungi are a growing public health concern, and have emerged as a leading cause of human mortality, particularly among the ever-increasing population of immunocompromised individuals. The treatment of fungal infections is notoriously challenging, with a very limited selection of clinically effective, nontoxic antifungal therapeutic options, and increasing rates of antifungal drug resistance. My research program aims to improve our ability to understand how fungi cause disease, and resist treatment with antifungals, through the development and use of cutting-edge CRISPR- based genome editing technologies. Focusing on Candida albicans, the most common cause of fungal infections, we will develop CRISPR systems to create genetic mutants on a large scale, and use these to explore the genetic mechanisms by which Candida species are able to tolerate treatment with antifungal drugs and cause life-threatening disease.

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