Dr Leanne Taylor-Smith MSci, PhD, SFHEA

Dr Leanne Taylor-Smith

School of Biosciences
Assistant Professor in Eukaryotic Microbiology
Head of Education School of Biosciences

Contact details

W113, School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Taylor-Smith is a teaching focused lecturer in the school of Biosciences. She teaches on Eukaryotic microbiology, host-pathogen interactions and immunology. Her previous research has been on the host-pathogen interaction between human macrophages and the yeast Cryptococcus neoformans.


MSci (University of Birmingham) 2010

PhD (University of Birmingham) 2014

PGCHE (University of Birmingham) 2020

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) 2023


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 on the pathogen Streptococcus agalactiae (Group B Streptococcus, GBS).

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 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 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. Her contributions to teaching were recognised with the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Birmingham in July 2012.

From 2014-2018 Leanne undertook both post-graduate research and lecturing roles. The research remained focussed on Cryptococcus infection research but she gained experience of using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) with collaborators at Oxford and dual macrophage infection with replication deficient HIV with collaborators in UCL.

Since 2018 Leanne has been a full time lecturer in the School of Biosciences.


Teaching on various modules at both Undergraduate and Postgraduate level, covering topics such as:

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

Leanne was Biological Sciences programme lead 2018 -2021, and Deputy Director of Education(Admissions) for the College of Life and Environmental Sciences 2021-2023


Research ID

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

Other activities

Other Qualifications

  • Advanced HE External Examiner course (2022)

Societies & Network memberships:

  • Advanced HE
  • Microbiology Society (MS)
  • Education and Outreach network of MS
  • Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS)
  • Society of Experimental Biology (SEB)
  • British Society of Medical Mycology (BSMM)
  • Biochemical Society
  • Irish Fungal Society (IFS)


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.

Taylor-Smith LM, May RC. New Weapons in the Cryptococcus infection toolkit. Current Opinion Microbiology. 2016. 34:67-74.

Perez-Soto N, Moule L, Crisan DN,  Insua I, Taylor-Smith LM, Voelz K, Fernandez-Trillo F, Krachler AM. Capture of Vibrio cholerae by charged polymers inhibits pathogeniciy by inducing a sessile lifestyle. Chemical Science. 2017. 1;8(8):5291-5298.

Taylor-Smith LM. Cryptococcus-Epithelial cell interactions. Journal of Fungi. 2017. 3(4), 53

Garelnabi M, Taylor-Smith LM, Bielska E, Hall RA, Stones DH, and May RC. (2018) Host-Specific Variation in the Macrophage Response To Cryptococcal Infection In Healthy Individuals. PLoS One 13(3).

Dambuza IM, Drake T, Chapuis A, Taylor-Smith LM, LeGrave N, Rasmussen T, Fisher MC, et al. (2018) The Cryptococcus neoformans Titan cell is an inducible and regulated morphotype underlying pathogenesis. PloS Pathog 24(5)

Lim, J., Coates, C. J., Seoane, P. I., Garelnabi, M., Taylor-Smith, L. M., Monteith, P et al. (2018). Characterizing the Mechanisms of Nonopsonic Uptake of Cryptococci by Macrophages. The Journal of Immunology, 200(10), 3539–3546.

Seoane PI, Taylor-Smith LM, Stirling D, Bell LCK, Noursadeghi M, Bailey D, May RC Viral infection triggers interferon-induced expulsion of live Cryptococcus neoformans by macrophages. PLoS Pathog.27;16(2):e1008240.

Saidykhan, L., Correia, J., Romanyuk, A., Peacock, A. F. A., Desanti, G. E., Taylor-Smith, L., Makarova, M., Ballou, E. R., & May, R. C. (2022). An in vitro method for inducing titan cells reveals novel features of yeast-to-titan switching in the human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus gattii. PLoS pathogens18(8), e1010321.

View all publications in research portal