Leah Cowen, PhD


Research in the Cowen lab focuses on fungal pathogens, which infect billions of people worldwide and kill in excess of 1.5 million per year, on par with prominent bacterial or protozoan pathogens such as those causing tuberculosis or malaria. Treatment of invasive fungal infections is notoriously difficult, and mortality rates range from 30 to 90%, depending on the pathogen and patient population. Our goal is to address the pressing need for new antifungal drugs through an interdisciplinary approach that includes chemical genomics, functional genomics, experimental evolution, models of host-pathogen interaction, microbiome analysis of patient populations, and structure-guided drug design.

Selected publications:

  1. Veri A.O., Miao Z., Shapiro R.S., Tebbji F., O'Meara T.R., Kim S.H., Colazo J., Tan K., Vyas V.K., Whiteway M., Robbins N., Wong K.H., and Cowen L.E. 2018. Tuning Hsf1 Levels Drives Distinct Fungal Morphogenetic Programs with Depletion Impairing Hsp90 Function and Overexpression Expanding the Target Space. PLoS Genetics 14:e1007270.
  2. Mount H.O.,* Revie N.M.,* Todd R.T., Anstett K., Collins C., Costanzo M., Boone C., Robbins N., Selmecki A., and Cowen L.E. 2018. Global Analysis of Genetic Circuitry and Adaptive Mechanisms Enabling Resistance to the Azole Antifungal Drugs. PLoS Genetics 14:e1007319.
  3. Xie, J. L., Qin, L., Miao, Z., Grys, B., De La Cruz, J., Ting, K. Krieger,, J. R., Tong, J., Tan, K., Leach1, M. D., Ketela, T., Moran, M. F., Krysan, D., Boone, C., Andrews, B., Selmecki, A., Wong, K. H., Robbins, N., and Cowen, L. E. 2017. Dephosphorylation of the Transcription Factor Cas5 by the Protein Phosphatase Glc7 Couples Cellular Stress Response, Drug Resistance, and Cell Cycle Progression in Candida albicans. Nature Communications 8: 499.
  4. Shekhar-Guturja, T., Gunaherath, G. M. K. B., Wijeratne, E. M. K., Lambert, J.-P., Averette, A. F., Lee, S. C., Kim, T., Bahn, Y.-S., Tripodi, F., Ammar, R., Döhl, K., Niewola-Staszkowska, K., Schmitt, L., Loewith, R. J., Roth, F. P., Sanglard, D., Andes, D., Nislow, C., Coccetti, P., Gingras, A.-C., Heitman, J., Gunatilaka, A. A. L., and Cowen, L. E. 2016. Dual Action Small Molecule Potentiates Antifungal Efficacy, Blocks the Evolution of Drug Resistance, and Renders Resistant Pathogens Responsive to Therapy via Modulation of Multidrug Efflux and TOR Signaling. Nature Chemical Biology 12: 867-75.
  5. O'Meara, T. R.*, Veri, A.*, Ketela, T., Jiang, B., Roemer, T., and Cowen, L. E. 2015. Global Analysis of Fungal Morphology Exposes Mechanisms of Host Cell Escape. Nature Communications 6:6741.