Stephen P. Saville, Ph.D.
Areas of Specialization
- Genetic Regulation of Candida albicans Cell Shape
- Role of Morphogenetic and Associated Changes in Candida albicans Virulence
Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics; Leicester University, U.K.
B.Sc. in Applied Sciences; Wolverhampton University, U.K.
Dr. Saville's lab conducts research on the fungal pathogen Candida albicans and specifically how it is able to cause disease in humans. The fungus forms part of the normal microbiome of humans, existing as a commensal on the mucosal surfaces of the mouth, vagina, or GI tract of 30-50% of the population. It is, however, capable of causing a wide range of diseases from superficial, generally treatable conditions such as oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC; oral thrush) and vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC; "yeast" infection) to a much more serious, life-threatening disease should the fungus disseminate to the deep organs.
The major cellular attribute linked to C. albicans' capacity to cause disease is its ability to alter its growth form from single celled "yeast" to an elongated form called a hypha. The lab's research is focused on unraveling the cellular machinery controlling hypha formation and developing new antifungal drugs that will inhibit this process.
Dr. Saville's lab employs a combination of molecular biology techniques such as RNASeq, ChIP-Se,q and quantitative PCR with more traditional methodologies such as novel strain construction and various forms of microscopy. The lab's other major research endeavor involves characterizing the mechanism of action of several compounds the lab has identified which inhibit hypha formation and represent potentially new antifungal drugs with novel mechanism(s) of action.