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PHO Microbiology Rounds: Identifying Vulnerabilities in Fungal Pathogens Through Functional and Chemical Genomic Analysis
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 12:00 pm to 01:00 pm
Venue: 661 University Ave. 17th Floor, Toronto ON M5G 1M1 - Boardroom 17-53
Infectious Diseases:Infection prevention and control:Antimicrobial stewardship (ASP); Infectious Diseases
City: Toronto
Type: Seminar
Format: In Person; Webinar

Please note: This is an open invitation and may be forwarded to interested parties.


Intrinsic and acquired drug resistance of microbial pathogens poses a grave threat to human health and has enormous economic consequences worldwide. Fungal pathogens present a particular challenge because they are eukaryotes and share many of the same biological processes as the human hosts they infect. The number of drug classes that have distinct targets in fungi is very limited and the usefulness of current antifungal drugs is compromised by dose-limiting host toxicity and the frequent emergence of high-grade resistance. New, non-cross-reactive drugs for the treatment of life-threatening fungal infections are urgently needed. This session will focus on our recent work to address this challenge, examining functional genomics, chemical biology and structure guided drug design. Novel compound classes with potent single agent antifungal activity will also be highlighted, in addition to those that have synergistic activity with current antifungal drugs to enable resistance-disfavoring combination regimens.


By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Apply genomic approaches to dissect mechanisms of fungal pathogenesis;
  • Demonstrate how fungal virulence strategies can impact clinical outcomes of fungal infection;
  • Implement strategies for antifungal drug development;
  • Demonstrate potential application of emerging agents for the treatment of challenging fungal infections.

Presenter: Leah E. Cowen, Ph.D

Leah E. Cowen, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia, a PhD from the University of Toronto and pursued postdoctoral studies at the Whitehead Institute. Her laboratory takes an interdisciplinary approach to understand fungal pathogenesis and develop new therapeutic strategies. Dr. Cowen has been recognized with a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award, Grand Challenges Canada Star in Global Health Award, Canada Research Chair in Microbial Genomics & Infectious Disease, and Fellowship of the American Academy of Microbiology. She is co-founder of Bright Angel Therapeutics, which leverages state-of-the-art technologies for development of novel antifungal therapeutics.

Please note that you will receive details on how to join the webinar after registering for this event.

Public Health Ontario Rounds are approved for continuing medical education from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. PHO Grand Rounds are also approved by Council of Professional Experience for professional development hours (PDHs) for members of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI). For more information, contact


The opinions expressed by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies or views of Public Health Ontario, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by Public Health Ontario.


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If you have submissions, or questions or comments about the items above, send them to
Public Health Ontario is committed to complying with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). If you require accommodations to participate in this event, please contact 647-260-7100 or

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