Infectious Diseases Honours students recently invited David Denning, prominent expert in fungal infections, to visit them in Edinburgh

The Infectious Diseases Honours class of 2014 / 2015 recently invited David Denning, Professor of Infectious Diseases and Global Health at the University of Manchester, to speak to them about his research into the huge, and often overlooked, burden of fungal infections.

David visited Edinburgh on 3 March 2015.  During his visit he met with the infectious diseases students, other members of the clinical and academic staff, and gave two seminars very well attended seminars:

  • Learning from Aspergillus - from asthma to TB and transplant
  • 150 deaths an hour - the neglected fungal diseases epidemic – see the video below


Edinburgh Infectious Diseases was delighted to be able to give the Infectious Diseases Honours students the opportunity to invite a speaker of their choice to allow them to explore in more detail aspects of their course.  Three students from the class, Rachel Krol, Liza Elshina and Emma Langan, took on the task of coordinating their classmates to choose and invite a speaker, and then to host them during their visit to Edinburgh.  They have written about their experiences here:

When we were given the opportunity to invite a speaker of our choice it felt like a daunting task; to choose a speaker despite feeling that we knew little of those we could be inviting - none of us had organised an event like this before. However, once we started thinking about it, the whole process proved a very good experience and was an opportunity none of us have any regrets for taking it on.

Finding a speaker proved interesting after having been given places to start looking  and focus our research (institutions with a particular focus on infectious diseases such as London School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene - and also other universities including Glasgow, Manchester, Dundee, Aberdeen). We also spoke to our course Director, Douglas Roy, and other lecturers to ask if they had any suggestions. 

We decided to focus on areas which we have limited teaching, which led us to look at the use of plants in vaccine production and medicine, fungal biology, prions and the gut microbiome and we also included antibacterial resistance in our choices. Following this, we made a class poll, took the favoured option and invited Professor David Denning, Manchester based president of GAFFI (Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections), Director of the National Aspergillus Centre and Principal Investigator and Manchester Fungal Infection Group.

The day itself consisted of two seminars (one at Little France, QMRI) and one in the evening (Kings Buildings), a discussion lunch with our class in QMRI and several meetings between David Denning and clinical/academic staff. 

The event worked very well.  David himself was a very engaging character, the lectures had good turn outs, the discussion lunch allowed us to talk in more depth about his work and the evening dinner allowed us to relax and hear even more about his life and work.  We learnt a great deal during the day.  His lectures gave us a fascinating insight into both the clinical aspects and the public and global health perspectives of fungal infection which was new to many of us.  It was amazing that for such a significant infection there is such little awareness and research on the subject in comparison to other diseases.

David was very open and approachable and was interested in our honours projects and studies, and our future intentions. We were able to enquire about his work (including how he manages his time so efficiently to let him do so much; regular clinical practise, conferences, research, writing reports/papers, meetings, supervising students/colleagues, the list seemed endless) and he talked about opportunities in both the fungal field and in infectious diseases in general for our futures.  For me, I think his enthusiasm and passion for his subject was the most inspiring thing and is what I will remember most from his visit.  The willingness to connect with global partners and to reach out for expertise from all over the world really brought home how connected science should be and that collaboration with others greatly strengthens development and work.  As well as us gaining much from his visit I think David also gained something too and enjoyed the day.  It was very satisfying that we felt like the success of the event was felt by both parties.

Organising David's visit was a great opportunity - I would encourage future students so make the most of similar opportunities and thoroughly enjoy the event!

  • Emma Langan, Rachel Krol and Liza Elshina, Infectious Diseases Honours Class 2014 / 15

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