Geoffrey Pope 322/Lab 309
Geoffrey Pope Building, University of Exeter , Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QD, UK
I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology, which included a broad range of fascinating topics, from cancer and developmental biology, neurosciences and infectious diseases to ecological concepts and theories of evolution. During my second and third years I particularly enjoyed studying infection and immunity combined with evolutionary biology. For my final year project, I studied a link between diet and immunity in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, under infection by the fungus Metarhizium robertsii.
I have also carried out an undergraduate summer research project at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, where I studied the effects of biotic and abiotic stress on stomatal closure in Arabidopsis thaliana.
My current research interests lie in microbial ecology and evolution and I am particularly interested in the human microbiome (the natural communities of microorganisms colonising various sites within the body) and the variation in its composition, for example during disease. My PhD project supervised by Dr. Ivana Gudelj and Professor Ken Haynes focuses on the ecology of mixed species infections of Candida, an opportunistic fungal pathogen of humans, and evolution of antifungal drug resistance.
Broad research specialisms:
- Microbial ecology and evolution
- Systems biology of drug resistance
- Fungal biology
2010-2013: BSc (Hons) Biology, University of Bath
Project Title: The Evolutionary Ecology of Fungal Human Pathogens
Funding Body: BBSRC Studentship
Human fungal pathogens are responsible for fatal human diseases, particularly in the dramatic rise of bloodstream infections in intensive care units of hospitals. Candida species are responsible for these severe infections in immuno-compromised hosts, whereas in healthy individuals they exist as normal components of the human microbiota. Whilst Candida albicans is known to have a key role in systemic infections (candidemia), Candida glabrata is emerging as a major pathogen due to its greater than 50% death rate and resistance to currently used antifungal drugs.
Surprisingly, human fungal diseases are not well understood; whilst research into antibacterial resistance increases, there is an urgent need to investigate how fungal pathogens can evolve and adapt to different environments and importantly, how drug resistance develops. Previous clinical studies have investigated single Candida infections but the existence of multiple species infections poses important questions over how ecological interactions can affect the evolution of drug resistance, in combination with varying resources and other abiotic factors.
My PhD is investigating differences in resource utilisation between drug-sensitive Candida albicans and drug-resistant Candida glabrata in vitro and will investigate the effect of antifungal drugs on these competitive interactions. I will also investigate optimal treatment strategies to reduce evolution of drug resistance in Candida.