Dr Leanne Taylor-Smith MSci, PhD

Dr Leanne Taylor-Smith

School of Biosciences
Assistant Professor in Eukaryotic Microbiology
ERC Post-Doctoral Researcher

Contact details

W113, School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Taylor-Smith is a lecturer and post-doctoral researcher in the school of Biosciences. She teaches on Eukaryotic microbiology and researches the host-pathogen interaction between human macrophage cells and the yeast Cryptococcus neoformans. Dr Taylor-Smith works in Professor Robin May’s group and is funded by the European Research Council.


MSci (University of Birmingham) 2010

PhD (University of Birmingham) 2014


Leanne did her undergraduate studies here at the University of Birmingham. As a third year undergraduate student she had the opportunity to work in Professor Charles Penn's laboratory on the gastrointestinal pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. The aim of this project was to investigate the function of the flagella biosynthesis gene, flhF. Leanne then did an MSci project where she switched topic to work on the pathogen Streptococcus agalactiae (Group B Streptococcus, GBS). Here she was interested in understanding the virulence attributes required for bacterial survival within the phagosome of macrophages. It was during this project that her particular interest in microscopy, for imaging host-pathogen interactions, began.

Leanne’s PhD focused on the intracellular behaviours of two microbial pathogens: Streptococcus agalactiae and the Eukaryotic fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans. Whilst conducting her PhD research in Professor Robin May’s group, she became familiar with both bacterial and fungal infections of phagocytes. She enjoyed combining host-pathogen interaction studies with advanced live cell imaging. This fantastic technique has enabled her to investigate the temporal dynamics of pathogen-containing phagosomes.

Leanne’s PhD was done part time whilst a teaching assistant within the school of Biosciences. During this time Leanne was involved in practical demonstrating and workshop assistance. She also developed and implemented an optional module for second year biological sciences undergraduates. These ‘Biotechnique Masterclasses' were taught by PhD students and Post-Doctoral researchers in research labs within the school of Biosciences. Leanne delivered 3, 3 hour masterclasses on the topics; the basics of tissue culture, an introduction to light and fluorescence microscopy and Mycology. Her contributions to teaching were recognised with the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Birmingham in July 2012.


Teaching on various modules at both Undergraduate and Postgraduate level, including:

  • Host-pathogen interactions (module organiser) 
  • Microbiology and infectious disease 
  • Molecular and Cellular Immunology 


Research interests

  • Host-pathogen interactions
  • Phagosome maturation
  • Fungal pathogenicity
  • Microscopy

Research lab page


Research ID

ORCID ID orcid.org/0000-0001-6217-6499

Other activities


  • Member of the Equality and Diversity Committee for Biosciences


  • Society of General Microbiology (SGM)
  • Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS)
  • Society of Experimental Biology (SEB)
  • British Society of Medical Mycology (BSMM)
  • Biochemical Society
  • Irish Fungal Society (IFS)

 Public Engagement:

  • Meet the Scientist at Think Tank
  • University open days
  • IMI summer school
  • World fungus Day at Think Tank


Cumley NJ, Smith LM, Anthony M, May RC. The CovS/CovR Acid Response regulator is required for intracellular survival of Group B Streptococcus in macrophages. Infection and  Immunity. 2012, 80(5):1650.

Smith LM, May RC. Mechanisms of microbial escape from phagocyte killing. Colworth Medal Lecture. Biochemical Society Transactions 2013. 41, 475-490

Voelz K, Johnston SA, Smith LM, Hall RA, Idnurm A, May RC. Pathogenic ‘Division of Labour’ in response to host oxidative burst drives a fatal fungal outbreak. Nature communications. 2014, 17;5:5194

Smith LM, Dixon E, May RC. The fatal fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans manipulates macrophage phagosome maturation.  Cellular Microbiology. 2015, 17(5): 702-13. ePub 2014.

View all publications in research portal