As part of our ‘Get to know your SANS EXCO webinar series’, we introduce the SANS Secretary, Dr Rachael Dangarembizi. Please join us on Wednesday 9 June at 3pm for her webinar ‘Neuroimmune responses to fungal infections of the brain’.
Zoom ID: https://uct-za.zoom.us/j/97557666499
Cryptococcal meningitis is a highly invasive and deadly fungal infection of the central nervous system predominantly prevalent in immunocompromised individuals although it also affects patients with no history of immunosuppression. Cryptococcal infections kill almost 500 000 people annually, 75% of whom live in Sub-Saharan Africa but the current drugs used for treating cryptococcal meningitis are ineffective and mostly inaccessible to those affected, leading to a high mortality and long-term neurological damage in survivors. Cryptococcosis is caused by the ubiquitous basidiomycetes Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gatii which have a predilection for the CNS and are associated with a fatal form of meningoencephalitis. Cryptococcal meningitis is characterised by debilitating long-term neurological damage of an inflammatory origin but the neuroinflammatory response to cryptococcal infections is not adequately described. This talk will review models and methods used for studying neuroinflammation in fungal infections and how these could be useful in the identification of novel molecular targets in the management of cryptococcosis of the brain. We will also briefly discuss recently developed scientific technologies that have the potential to revolutionise the field of neuroinflammation and advance the development of antifungal therapies.
Dr Dangarembizi bio:
Dr Rachael Dangarembizi is a Lecturer and neuroscientist in the Department of Human Biology and the Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cape Town whose main research interest is neuroimmune responses to fungal infections. Her current research focuses on the inflammatory response to Cryptococcus neoformans infection in the brain. A strong believer in the capability of women in neuroscience, Rachael is actively involved in promoting diversity and capacity building in African neuroscience. She is an African ambassador of the ALBA network who is passionate about improving neuroscience education in Africa. She teaches neuroscience in different Universities in Sub-Saharan Africa and also mentors postgraduate students in her lab at UCT.