Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
Microbiology, Fungal Pathogenesis
Dr. Moore is interested in the features of human fungal pathogens that enable them to colonize and survive in the human body. Fungi as a group are not generally pathogenic to humans but instead have evolved as specialized pathogens of insects and plants. There are relatively few fungal human pathogens and most are superficial such as those that cause dermatitis. Dr. Moore’s laboratory is interested in aspects of fungal biology that influence their ability to cause invasive disease in humans; specifically, the ability to acquire iron, which is a limiting nutrient in the human body, and the role of sialic acids – specialized sugar molecules found on the surface of some fungal pathogens – in adhesion and invasion of the human cells.
How has your research program evolved at Simon Fraser University (SFU)?
My focus has always been on filamentous fungi. I became interested in them because they’re eukaryotes that inhabit unique environmental niches and because their biotransformation abilities were relatively untapped. My early work at SFU involved the industrial use of fungi for biotransformation reactions, integrating them into organic syntheses. A second, related interest was their use in bioremediation; we monitored biodegradation activity of isolates from contaminated sites. Later, I became interested in their role in human disease and now my work is almost exclusively focussed on fungal pathogenesis. I suppose the unifying theme of my research program has been the biochemistry of filamentous fungi applied to different aspects of their utility or pathogenicity.
What research obstacle currently keeps you awake at night?
What keeps me awake is the challenge of making constructs to get fungal genes to express. I often wake up at 4 am thinking about about experiments and have done so for my whole career.
The funding situation keeps all Canadian scientists awake at night. I think that the decreased availability of funding for basic research is diminishing our profile on the international stage. Without that profile, we can’t attract enthusiastic young people and we lose any edge we ever had as a country. We have excellent scientists, an excellent education system and we have capable, dedicated young people; we just need the funding to train them.