Liam Fanning APEX

Liam Joseph Fanning, PhD, DSc

Correspondence address:

Department of Medicine, Clinical Sciences Building, University College Cork.


Current Academic Positions:

  • Faculty APC-Microbiome Institute Department of Medicine, University College Cork
  • Senior Lecturer, Immunovirology, Department of Medicine, University College Cork

Additional positions (indicative):

  • Director, Molecular Virology Diagnostic and Research Laboratory
  • Chair, Research and Postgraduate Affairs Committee, School of Medicine, UCC
  • Chair, Biological Safety Advisory Group, Office of the vice-President for Research and Innovation, UCC.

Current funding:

  • APC-MI Research Innovation Fund – Anti-phage immunity in health and disease
  • ICORN – Reverse epitope mapping in Hepatitis C infection
  • H2020 – Isothermal detection of HIV genomes

Research Interests:

The corpus of my previous and current research interests has and continues to evolve into a network of overlapping research themes comprising immunology, virology and host-pathogen interactions. The significance of non-host derived adaptive (mucosal assisted) humoral immunity in health and disease is an exciting new area of research within the APC-MI of which I am the lead PI.

A key unknown in gut immunovirology is the target bacterial species for many of the (orphan)bacteriophage present in the gut, in both health and disease. The relative abundance and diversity of anti-bacterial antibodies differs between health and disease, whether a parallel situation pertains to anti-phage antibodies is ill defined. Through the use of naturally generated human anti-phage antibodies we have developed a methodology which can capture in a target non-specific manner bacteriophage (known and orphan). Through a combination of this antibody mediated bacteriophage capture and next generation sequencing both the commensal and pathogenic targets of these uncharacterised bacteriophage can be identified. The partition of bacteriophage populations (and their target bacteria) in the differing states of health and disease based, in part, on immune profiling will add considerable knowledge to our understanding as to how the host immune system engages with bacteriophage and any consequent impact on the normative predator prey relationship between phage and microbiome and inflammatory disease states.

This research area will address the following key knowledge gaps:

  • Determine the prevalence of anti-phage antibodies in healthy controls and individuals with inflammatory disease
  • Identify the spectrum of phage targeted by anti-phage antibodies
  • Explore whether anti-phage activity, in particular as it relates to antibodies and antigen presentation, modulates the composition of the microbiome in health and disease
  • The contribution of host derived anti-phage activity to inflammatory disease processes such as inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, infectious viral diseases.

Indicative technologies and disciplines: Immuno-biome profiling, Virome and other Omic analysis, NGS, FACS-sort, Immunology, Microbiome analysis, Translational Research