e-Learning course in fungal microscopy launched to save lives

Scientists estimate that of the 5 million fungus species on Earth around 600 cause disease in humans. It is a challenge to diagnose a serious fungal infection in real time and this course is aimed at teaching a rapid method of diagnosis.

Experts in Manchester have now developed the world’s first Fungal Microscopy online course. It is aimed at doctors, clinical scientists and laboratory technologists across the world, and because it is online students in poorer countries where the need for information is greatest will now be able to learn how to recognize most pathogenic fungi.

The number of people with expertise in fungal microscopy is at an historic low globally. Despite major technical developments in diagnostics and treatment the availability of rapid diagnostic methods is very poor in many parts of the world. This deficit contributes to the annual death toll of over 1,600,000 people from fungal disease each year.

The course will teach not only how to rapidly and accurately diagnose life-threatening fungal infections, but also how to set up direct microscopy in a diagnostic laboratory. It is available now at www.microfungi.net

Dr. David Denning, Professor of Infectious Disease in Global Health at The University of Manchester – and one of the course designers stated: ”The global prevalence of fungal diseases is increasing due to increases in susceptible patients (cancer therapies, organ transplantation, asthma, chronic lung diseases) and international travel. Very few diagnostics are as rapid as microscopy and it is inexpensive. Our course will enable any microbiologists and pathologists to rapidly diagnose most fungal infections in minutes, saving lives.”

The course was designed by Dr. Jenny Bartholomew, Michael Clarke, Prof David Denning, Dr. Riina Richardson, Dr. Emyr Benbow & Dr. Ruth Ashbee, with contributions from mycology experts globally.

e-Learning course in fungal microscopy www.microfungi.net
Project LIFE competition  (http://projectlifecompetition.org/resources)

The course includes knowledge assessments, tests, quizzes and practice assessments. Participants who pass the final assessment are awarded a certificate of completion accredited by The University of Manchester. The FIT is grateful to Gilead Sciences Europe for their educational grant to support the second phase of the course’s development.

Editor-in-Chief , National Aspergillosis Centre
Editor-in-Chief, Research Associate for the National Aspergillosis Centre and PPI Lead for Respiratory Section of the Manchester Biomedical Research Centre