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Dr Tihana Bicanic

Reader in Infectious Diseases
Clinical Academic with an interest in invasive fungal infection, antifungal therapy and resistance

Dr Bicanic joined St George’s as a Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Infectious Diseases in April 2013. Prior to this she undertook her pre-clinical medical training at Cambridge and clinical training at Oxford. Her specialist postgraduate clinical training in Microbiology and Infectious diseases was at St George's Hospital NHS Trust (2002-2009), where she has been an honorary Consultant in Infectious Diseases since 2013.

Since 2004, together with colleagues from the Cryptococcal Meningitis group at St George's, she has been involved in internationally-leading clinical and translational research in the field of cryptococcal meningitis in HIV. Since 2010 has had her own laboratory and research group at St George’s. She was promoted to Reader in Infectious Diseases in October 2015.

Dr Bicanic was a co-founder of the Cryptococcal Meningitis advocacy group (CRYPTO-MAG) which is co-ordinated from St George's and campaigns for access to medicines for cryptococcal meningitis. She has contributed to both South African and WHO cryptococcal treatment guidelines. She is the lead co-ordinator of the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology (ISHAM) working group on AIDS-related Mycoses. She is regularly invited to speak at major International Infectious Diseases and Mycology conferences (ID week, ECCMID, TIMM, ISHAM). She sits on the British Infection Association Scientific Advisory committee. In 2018, she was elected Fellow of the European Confederation of Medical Mycology (FECMM) in recognition of scientific excellence and outstanding expertise in Medical Mycology.

Since 2004, Dr Bicanic's research focus has been on the invasive fungal infection cryptococcal meningitis (CM) in patients with HIV/AIDS, the most common cause of meningitis in Africa. Initially she undertook phase II antifungal clinical trials and described the epidemiology and clinical complications of the disease in HIV-infected South African patients (2004-6). More recently, she was a co-investigator in the Advancing Cryptococcal Treatment for Africa (ACTA) trial, the largest phase III randomised trial of HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis completed to date.

Her Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellowship demonstrated a relationship between virulence factors (capsule, melanin, survival within macrophages and ex vivo human CSF) and genotype in clinical isolates of Cryptococcus neoformans with clinical presentation and outcome in human disease.

Her recent work has described the evolution and genetic mechanism of cryptococcal resistance to fluconazole, the most widely used therapy for cryptococcal meningitis in African patients, and shown how combination antifungal therapy can prevent this from occurring. She has performed the first genome-wide association study of susceptibility to disseminated cryptococcal disease in HIV-infected Southern African patients, identifying novel susceptibility loci related to macrophage activation.

Dr Bicanic is now leading in establishing a London Mycology clinical research network to undertake studies in Candidaemia (including evolution of drug resistance), Invasive Aspergillosis in Influenza, novel diagnostics and antifungal stewardship.

 

Current Research funding

2019 St George’s Hospital Charity Research Grant

2019-20 Gilead UK & Ireland Research fellowship in Invasive Fungal Disease (two awards)

 

Past funding

2013-17 Wellcome Trust Strategic award Medical Mycology and Fungal Immunology Clinical and Postdoctoral fellowship (two awards)

2012-15 MRC Project Grant (Co-I)

2010-13 Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellowship

Research team

Sarah Murphy, Research Assistant

Clare Logan, Clinical Research fellow

Jonathan Youngs, Clinical Research Fellow

 

Research Collaborators

Antifungal resistance: William Hope, Liverpool (PK/PD); Judith Berman, Tel Aviv University (mechanism)

Invasive aspergillosis in ICU patients with Influenza: Jonathan Ball (St George's Hospital); Duncan Wyncoll (Guys and St Thomas’ hospital); Philip Hopkins (Kings College Hospital)

Candidaemia: Anna Goodman (Guys and St Thomas'); Silke Schelenz (Kings College); Neil Stone (University College Hospital)

Cryptococcal genomics and virulence phenotyping: Matthew Fisher, (Imperial); Cristina Cuomo (Broad Institute); John Perfect (Duke University)

Host immunogenetics: Mihai Netea (University of Nijmegen); Graeme Meintjes (University of Cape Town), Joe Jarvis (LSHTM)

 

 

Dr Bicanic lectures on Fungal Infections and antifungals; Fungal Resistance and Opportunistic Infections in HIV to Undergraduate and Masters students at SGUL

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