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Dr Pang Li Mei

  • Research Associate, National Dental Research Institute Singapore and Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR): Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB)

I completed a PhD degree in the School of Biological Sciences (Nanyang Technological University) in January 2018. For my graduate studies, I researched on novel secondary metabolites produced by indigenous actinomycetes isolated from Singapore. Having a strong interest in clinical research, I am fortunate to be part of SOMI to explore the antifungal resistance mechanisms in human fungal pathogen Candida albicans. C. albicans infections pose a significant clinical problem especially in compromised host populations undergoing HIV/AIDS treatment, chemotherapy or organ transplantation. As both humans and fungi use similar eukaryotic machinery, this poses a major hurdle in antifungal development which requires drug targets to be fungi-specific to avoid undesirable toxicity. To date, only a few classes of antifungal drugs, such as polyenes, azoles, echinocandins, allylamines, and flucytosine, are available for fungal infection treatment. The rapid increase in drug resistance further limits the effectiveness existing antifungals. Therefore, the development of antifungals with novel drug targets is a promising approach to manage C. albicans infections. We believe our findings will provide invaluable information for developing novel anti-C. albicans treatment against these novel drug targets. This study will benefit millions of patients suffering from various forms of candidiasis.

Research Focus Areas

Fungal isolates that are resistant to existing anti-fungal drugs are now routinely isolated in hospitals worldwide. Fungal biofilm formation on the surface of medical implants is a major contributory factor to therapeutic failure. The fungal biofilm provides an effective physical barrier that prevents a drug from reaching its target. To improve treatment strategies, it is crucial to understand the underlying mechanisms that govern the antifungal resistance and biofilm formation. We have employed stable haploid C. albicans strains and engineered the piggy-Bac (PB) transposon system to generate mutant libraries of random insertions throughout the entire genome. With the PB transposon mutagenesis system, we are able to conduct genome-wide screens to identify genes the play important roles in antifungal resistance and biofilm formation.

Current Projects

Identification and elucidation of antifungal resistance mechanisms in the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans

Truong T, Zeng G, Lim TK, Cao T, Pang LM, Lee YM, Lin Q, Wang Y, Seneviratne CJ. Proteomics analysis of Candida albicans dnm1 haploid mutant unraveled the association between mitochondrial fission and antifungal susceptibility. Proteomics 2020;20:1900240.