Host-pathogen interaction theme lead, Manchester Fungal Infection Group (MFIG)
Co-Director, MSc Infection Biology programme
PGT Unit Lead: Host-pathogen interaction lecture unit & Research project II (MRes Infection Biology)
BBSRC-DTP Cohort tutor Year starting 2020-2021
Margherita Bertuzzi is a molecular microbiologist specialising in fungal infection biology, whose research focuses on the antifungal phagocytic activities of the respiratory epithelium in health and disease.
With a major emphasis on pH-mediated signalling, her research has focused upon the way in which extracellular cues shape fungal tissue invasion and pathogenicity in mammalian hosts. During her PhD at Imperial College London (2007-2011), she developed the first, and only, protein-protein interaction toolkit for the major mould pathogen of human lungs Aspergillus fumigatus, demonstrating that a non-redundant pH sensor initiates pH signalling, which is critical for pathogenicity. This work [Bertuzzi & Bignell, Fungal Biology Reviews, 2011] has fuelled the exploration of fungal pH signalling as a drug target.
As a Postdoctoral Scientist at Imperial College London first (2011-2014) and then at the University of Manchester (2014-2017), she developed the first genetically-encoded biosensors of calcium signalling in A. fumigatus [Muñoz* & Bertuzzi*, et al., PloS one, 2015], which will facilitate discovery of new antifungal drugs. Furthermore, she demonstrated that A. fumigatus alkaline and calcium signalling, both critical for pathogenicity, have evolved to function independently, having important implications for antifungal drug discovery [Loss* & Bertuzzi*, et al., Molecular microbiology, 2017]. Also, she demonstrated that fungal invasion of the mammalian lung is genetically regulated [Bertuzzi*, et al., PLoS pathogens, 2014] and that uptake of fungal spores by the respiratory epithelium is one of the earliest events in the host-pathogen interaction.
As a Research Fellow at the University of Manchester (2017-2020) , she established novel single-cell approaches to demonstrate that phagocytic activities of cultured human airway epithelial cells directly and competently promote clearance of infecting fungal spores [methods chapters in Methods Handbook on Host-Fungal interactions, in press]. As an early career scientist developing an independent career in single cell technologies, she was awarded an MRC Discovery award from the University of Manchester (2017) to substantiate her results using clinical samples, thanks to an established collaboration between the Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research (MCCIR), the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (Wythenshawe) and the National Aspergillosis Centre.
She was appointed Lecturer in Molecular Microbiology at the University of Manchester in 2020 to establish her research group, focusing on understanding epithelial encounters with inhaled respiratory pathogens and the role of these events in health and disease, especially in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a well-known risk factor for debilitating fungal lung disease. In the same year, she was also appointed Co-Director of the MSc Infection Biology programme, a novel research-focused 12-month full-time course (established in 18/19), which consolidates the interdisciplinary network of excellence in fundamental and clinical infectious diseases research at Manchester. Having been awarded a prestigious MRC New Investigator Research grant in 2021, her group is now pursuing a full mechanistic understanding of Af-epithelial interactions and how these are dysregulated in disease.
2002-2005: BSc (Hons) Molecular Biology, University of Padua, Italy
2005-2007: MRes Human Health Biology, University of Padua, Italy
2007-2011: PhD Molecular Mycology, Imperial College London, UK
Title of thesis: Sensory perception in model and pathogenic fungi: engineering misappropriation of response
2012: Practical course on Molecular Mycology, Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole, USA
Memberships of committees and professional bodies
Member of: BSMM (British Society for Medical Mycology, since 2008), Biochemical Society (since 2009), ISHAM (International Society for Human and Animal Mycology, since 2012), ESCMID (European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, since 2013), SGM (Society for General Microbiology, since 2014) and BMS (British Mycological Society, since 2014)
Member of the executive committee for the BSMM (British Society for Medical Mycology) since 2016.