The impact of fungal pathogens on human health is currently spiraling out of control, with the global mortality rate for fungal diseases now exceeding that of malaria (Brown et al., 2012). Fungal pathogens cause invasive diseases and chronic infections, in both immunocompromised and immunocompetent individuals. Despite this public health burden, fungal infections have been widely neglected in terms of research funding compared to other infectious diseases (Fisher et al., 2018).
I am currently an independent Research Fellow using metagenomics to explore the role of infection in the development of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease. I am also heavily involved in the Wellcome Trust grant "Understanding and mitigating the impact of emerging antifungal resistance". This role involves population genomics genetic and biostatistical analyses of Aspergillus fumigatus, an environmental fungus to which all humans are exposed causing disease in millions, and which is rapidly evolving resistance to azole antifungal drugs worldwide. My research aims to understand the risk that azole-resistant aspergillosis presents to public health by identifying the extent to which patients are acquiring resistant infections from environmental sources.
Alongside this research, I continue to work on the emerging human pathogen Candida auris; this pathogen displays unique characteristics that have led it to be a global public health concern, namely, its ability to cause nosocomial outbreaks, lack of vulnerability to hygiene and infection control measures, and intrinsic drug resistance.
I am also continuing my research on the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans, which predominantly infects immunocompromised individuals, and is responsible for almost a quarter of AIDS-related deaths in Africa.
Rhodes J, 2022, Population genomics confirms acquisition of drug resistant Aspergillus fumigatus infection by humans from the environment, Nature Microbiology, ISSN:2058-5276
et al., 2022, Tackling the emerging threat of antifungal resistance to human health, Nature Reviews Microbiology, ISSN:1740-1526
et al., 2021, Azole-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus is highly prevalent in the environment of Vietnam, with marked variability by land use type, Environmental Microbiology, Vol:23, ISSN:1462-2912, Pages:7632-7642
et al., 2021, Fungal genomics in respiratory medicine: what, how and when?, Mycopathologia, Vol:186, ISSN:0301-486X, Pages:589-608
Edwards H, Rhodes J, 2021, Accounting for the biological complexity of pathogenic fungi in phylogenetic dating, Journal of Fungi, Vol:7, ISSN:2309-608X