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BMS Seminar: Immune recognition of the cell wall of a pathogenic fungus, Professor Neil Gow FRS, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Impact), University of Exeter

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Location: MTC Lecture Theatre, Warwick Medical School

Abstract: Immune surveillance and defence mechanisms is based on the recognition of a suite of molecules in the cell wall that are recognised by pattern recognition receptors of the innate immune system. Differences in the cell wall composition of different fungi and or the same fungus organisms growing in different morphologies and in differing environments generates a moving target for immune recognition. We have used a variety of microscopic, genetic and immunological tools to generate a new spatially accurate model of the cell wall and to explore how dynamic changes in the wall influence immune surveillance. We show that immune relevant epitopes can be diffuse or clustered, superficial or buried in the cell wall and they changed during batch culture and between yeast, hypha and other cellular morphologies. The immune reactivity of different fungal cell surfaces was not necessarily related to the phylogenetic relationship between organisms, or the relative virulence of different strains. These experiments demonstrate that the fungal cell surface is ordered, complex and dynamically changing, making immune recognition a challenging process requiring the concerted action of multiple receptors operating singly and in combination.

N GowBiography: Professor Neil Gow is Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Impact and Professor of Microbiology at the University of Exeter. Professor Gow was appointed in September 2018.
He is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh where he obtained his Bachelors degree in Microbiology. Professor Gow went on to receive his PhD in 1982 from the University of Aberdeen, followed by a period of postdoctoral research at the National Jewish Hospital for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine and University of Colorado, Denver, USA. He was appointed as a lecturer to the University of Aberdeen and received a personal Chair in 1995. At the University of Aberdeen Professor Gow held various senior positions including Head of Microbiology Research Programme, 2002-2011, Director of Research and Commercialisation, College of Life Sciences and Medicine, 2011-2015, Director of the Wellcome Trust Strategic Award in Medical Mycology and Fungal Immunology and Co-Director, MRC Centre for Medical Mycology, 2017-2018. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences, Royal Society of Edinburgh and American Academy of Microbiology and has acted as President of three major international societies of mycology and microbiology.
As Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Impact, Professor Gow oversees a total research portfolio of £299 million and leads the research vision and strategy for the University.
His overarching responsibilities include our preparation and submission for the Research Excellence Framework in 2021; interdisciplinary institutes, including the Environment and Sustainability Institute and the Living System Institute, and the development of our Global Systems Institute and Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Institute; strategic leadership of our Doctoral College, the University Ethics Committee and the Research and Impact Strategy Management Group; and ensuring our research is utilised and impacts positively on the wider world.
Professor Gow represents the University externally via a number of research-related groups including the EU Advisory Group for the Russell Group of Universities and GW4, our regional alliance of the Universities of Bristol, Bath, Cardiff and Exeter.


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