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Professor Tom Harrison (pictured) has served on guidelines panels for WHO, IDSA, and the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society

Meningitis expert joins Exeter fungal research centre

A leading expert on infectious diseases has joined a fungal research team at the University of Exeter.

Professor Tom Harrison, who leads a research programme on the prevention and treatment of cryptococcal meningitis, will work alongside other top scientists at the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology.

Cryptococcal meningitis is the commonest cause of meningitis in Africa, and is responsible for an estimated 180,000 deaths per year and 10-20% of all HIV-related deaths.

Professor Harrison continues to work as a consultant in the Infectious Diseases Department at St George's Hospital in London, and remains actively involved in the clinical and academic supervision of trainees in infectious diseases.

"Our group's work on cryptococcal meningitis continues and we are happy that we are involved in two newly funded projects going forward – to develop and test a slow-release formulation of flucytosine, a key drug in the treatment of cryptococcal disease, and the EFFECT Trial, to test enhanced antifungal therapy for CrAg-positive patients identified during screening programmes," Professor Harrison said.

"I do also look forward to discussing how we might take forward the optimisation and testing of novel combination treatments for other systemic fungal infections, such as candidaemia and invasive aspergillosis, as a means to improve efficacy and mitigate against the development of further antifungal resistance; and to contributing to your training programmes and the development of the overseas units."

Professor Harrison studied natural sciences at Christ’s College Cambridge before studying medicine at St George's, University of London, and training in infectious diseases in London and Boston, USA.

He has served on guidelines panels for WHO, IDSA, and the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society.

He was a member of the MRC Infection and Immunity Board from 2014-18, and has served on many MRC panels in Global Health.

He is an Adjunct Member at The Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town.

Date: 9 September 2020

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