Professor Jan Quinn, Professor Claire Eyers and Dr Kevin Waldron
Defining the role of phosphate acquisition in promoting stress resistance and virulence in a major fungal pathogen of humans
Candida albicans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen of humans which is able to survive host imposed stresses and successfully proliferate in virtually every anatomical niche within the host. Key to this survival is the ability of C. albicans to effectively assimilate essential nutrients, such as phosphate, from diverse host microenvironments. Phosphate is universally important for physiological and metabolic processes in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. In ascomycetes the monitoring of cytoplasmic phosphate and control of the expression of genes involved in phosphate mobilisation, sensing and uptake are regulated by the PHO pathway which regulates the activity of the Pho4 transcription factor. Knowledge of the PHO pathway has been well established in the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. However, in C. albicans the PHO pathway remains poorly defined. Recent work in our lab has revealed that C. albicans phosphate acquisition, mediated by the Pho4 is essential for growth under phosphate limiting conditions, stress resistance and virulence of this fungal pathogen.
The main aim of my project is to investigate the mechanisms regulating phosphate acquisition and storage in C. albicans in order to delineate roles in stress resistance and virulence.
Where did I get my PIPs
I graduated from the University of Stirling with a First Class BSc (Hons) degree in Biological Sciences before pursuing a Bioscience MRes at Newcastle University where I graduated with a distinction. I am now undertaking a 4 Year PhD in the laboratory of Professor Jan Quinn. Early this year I completed my PIPs placement as part of my BBSRC an antifungal drug development company called F2G.
PIPS Internship Organisation Name
When deciding on your internship, what did you want to experience and what did you hope to gain from that experience?
I wanted to experience a laboratory which was not in an academic setting. I knew before my PhD that I wanted a career in scientific research I just was unsure whether I wanted to pursue this down an industry based or academic based route.
Did you get the experience you were expecting and did you achieve the personal development you had hoped to make?
No, working in industry was not what I expected. Whilst I enjoyed my time at F2G it helped me realise that industry is not for me as there is no ownership of a project or room to explore leads, it is very rigid.
Did you discover anything about yourself or make any achievements that you were not expecting?
I discovered that I like to be part of designing and helping to shape the research which I am doing and that I like to have a level of ownership over a project.
Has the internship made you feel differently about potential career options and has it helped to put the skills from research into a broader context?
Yes, I now know that a career in industry is not for me.