Interview: Little is known about fungal infections

This is the third interview with the PhD students of the Metagenomics projects in a series of 8 background articles. Keep following this website for the next interview in this series.

Interview with Nico Janssen, PhD student of the project ‘Immunological, microbiological and pharmacological aspects of invasive fungal infections’.

“I have always been interested in fungal infections. After I finished my specialization as an internist/infectiologist in 2016, I wanted to continue doing research in this field. Invasive fungal infections are a growing problem. Everyone has heard about resistant bacteria, but we are also seeing an increase in resistant fungal infections. This increase is due to more patients using immunosuppressive medication or fungal infections occurring in combination with HIV infection, among other causes. For me this is an interesting problem, especially because little is known about fungal infections.

Part of my research concerns patients in the intensive care unit with a severe influenza infection who also contract a fungal infection. I want to know if we can prevent these infections. This research will not lead immediately to new drugs to treat fungal infections, but preventing such infections is obviously important. In the more fundamental component of my research, I am addressing the question of why some people get fungal infections, while others do not. Hopefully we can find defects in the immune system, which we might be able to repair with new medication.

I actually have two roles. As a doctor I see patients who are being treated for infections. And as a researcher I can take their blood to the lab and do interesting experiments with it. I want to continue combining these two roles in the future, because I can then use my experience with patients in the research. And hopefully the other way around. This is something I really enjoy. I also enjoy discussing the research results with my patients. Sometimes this has no direct consequence for healthcare, but people often like to hear about our research.

Our field of research is relatively small. I think the added value of NCOH is that you can easily meet other researchers. If you have overlapping interests, this can lead to further collaboration.”

PhD project: Immunological, microbiological and pharmacological aspects of invasive fungal infections.

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