For the Love of Infectious Diseases: Starting a PhD with the SHIP Research Group!

In this week’s blog Alicia Ware, one of our PhD students who recently joined the SHIP team, shares with us her research interests and experience so far since starting her PhD. Alicia’s supervisors are Dr Ryan Kean, Dr John Butcher and Professor Lesley Price.



Hello, my name is Alicia Ware. I began my PhD in February at GCU with the SHIP Team. My project will be looking into the biology and transmission of the fungal pathogen Candida auris.

My interest in infectious diseases sparked as a child. I spent much of my childhood in Thailand, as my parents worked within the poverty-stricken slums of Bangkok. As such I saw firsthand how infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and HIV have widespread impacts on the lives of many people and play into the cycle of poverty. I wanted to work in the medical side of this, helping to treat and eradicate such infections.

At university in Australia, I completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Science. My 9-month 4th year Honours project was a pre-clinical trial of multiple malaria vaccine candidates. After this, I went on to work in 2 research labs first in Australia, and then in Scotland. Those projects were both focussed on validating novel drug candidates, firstly to treat early stage Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) and secondly to treat and cure infection with the parasite Leishmania mexicana.

Having worked so particularly with parasitic infectious diseases (and T1D!), I am really excited to branch out into working with a different organism in my PhD. Candida auris is an emerging, healthcare-associated infection only detected in 2009, and its story to date is both fascinating and concerning. With so many unknown questions about this organism, I cannot wait to start generating data and finding some answers!

Wearing a UV Visor for lab purposes, not COVID-19!

Unfortunately, due to the current global pandemic and lockdown situations, I have not had an opportunity to start my laboratory research. Instead, I have used this time to start my all-important literature review, to learn some new bioinformatics techniques which I hope to use later in my PhD, and to get to know my fellow PhD SHIP-mates through regular MS Teams coffee dates. I am looking forward to getting further into my research with this great group of people!


To find out more about the SHIP Team, head on to the GCU website, read the rest of our blogs and follow us on Twitter @SHIPGCU

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