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Dr Elizabeth Ballou

Cell biology specialist joins fungal research team

A specialist in cell biology and genetics is set to join the University of Exeter’s leading fungal research centre.

Dr Elizabeth Ballou will join the Medical Research Council Centre for Medical Mycology (MRC CMM) in Exeter, from the University of Birmingham.

Having recently pioneered in-vitro and single-cell approaches to study key fungal morphogenic transitions underpinning pathogenesis, Dr Ballou brings her expertise to Exeter to study structural changes in human fungal pathogens.

“Throughout my career, I have benefited from the guidance and advice of numerous mentors, and I'm excited about joining the MRC CMM to help pay this back by supporting the next generation of scientists, and about meeting new colleagues and collaborators in the Living Systems Institute,” Dr Ballou said.

“My research interests are wide-ranging, but I'm particularly intrigued by how fungi integrate environmental signals to undergo morphological changes underpinning pathogenesis.”

Professor Gordon Brown, Director of the MRC CMM, said: “We are thrilled that Liz Ballou is joining the MRC CMM.

“Liz is an outstanding scientist whose primary research focus is Cryptococcus neoformans, a major fungal pathogen of humans responsible for over 180,000 deaths each year.

“Liz brings expertise in cell biology, fungal genetics and pathogenicity that will complement and enhance other research activities in the centre.”

Dr Ballou earned her PhD at Duke University in the USA studying Cryptococcus neoformans morphogenesis before working as part of the Aberdeen Fungal Group at the University of Aberdeen, where she studied Candida albicans.

In 2015, Dr Ballou was awarded a BBSRC Anniversary Future Leaders Fellowship to study the molecular mechanisms underpinning Cryptococcus morphogenesis.

In 2017, she moved to the University of Birmingham's Institute for Infection and Immunity, where she was awarded a prestigious Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellowship in 2018 to investigate how Cryptococcus ‘titan’ cells form in response to environmental signals.

Date: 11 February 2021

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