Medical Research Council and University of Exeter

Our Research

Fungal Immunology

Immunology is the study of the immune system and its functions.

Our immune system is divided into two interwoven sections:

Innate immunity which is directly coded for in our genomes and enables us to rapidly respond to any infection.

This part of our immune system involves “phagocytic cells” which are able to eat (or phagocytose) microorganisms and kill them. They also have mechanisms for killing microorganisms they cannot eat (for example big fungal hyphae).

These cells are critical components of our immune system and defects in their function results in susceptibility to infection.

The adaptive immune system

The adaptive immune system has to integrate and process information produced by innate immune cells that detail the nature of the infection. This triggers cells such as T and B-cells (called lymphocytes) to undergo genetic rearrangement to produce molecules (including antibodies) that target the specific microorganism. The integration and processing of information takes time, so the adaptive immune system normally only kicks in a few days after the infection has started. Importantly, once the information has been processed the adaptive immune system can then remember (memory) the nature of this infection for the next time. This immune memory is the basis of vaccination.

Download and play the Fungal Invaders App!

What we are interested in

We are interested in determining which components of the immune system are important for protecting us from fungal infections and also those that are harmful.

Our research is primarily focussed on, ie: discovering something new about the immune system that was not known before.

We also study patients’ immune systems to see if we can understand why they are susceptible to fungal infections.

The majority of the deadly invasive fungal infections in people occur in individuals whose immune systems are compromised, for example: transplant or cancer patients those in hospital with intravenous catheters (that allow fungal entry into the blood stream), and those living with HIV/AIDS.

Studying the immunology of fungal infections is important for us to be able to develop vaccines and new immune-based therapies to prevent fungal disease. Disappointingly, there is not a single vaccine or immune-therapy  in clinical use for any fungal disease.

Here you can try to beat the fungi! Please note that the desktop version may not work on touchscreen devices. Alternatively, you could download our fun Fungal Invaders game for your Apple phone (click here to open App store).


Use the LEFT and RIGHT ARROW KEYS and SPACEBAR to shoot.
It gets faster the better you are. Have fun!



Gordon Brown (text)

Our version of Fungi Invaders was inspired by the original Space Invaders game created by Tomohiro Nishikado and developed by Taito.