Dr Catherine Pashley

Lecturer in Aerobiology and Mycology

School/Department: Respiratory Sciences, Department of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 3063



I began my research career studying for a PhD (1997-2003) in the Biology department of the University of Leicester studying the population genetics of the invasive weed Japanese Knotweed. My PhD was part-time and my other role was identifying and recording pollen counts for Leicester. This was followed by a two-year (2004-2006) post-doctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee USA studying the genetic evolution of domesticated sunflower.

In 2006 I returned to the Leicester to begin a five year post-doctoral position setting up and running an Aerobiology and Clinical Mycology group within the department of Infection Immunity & Inflammation (now the Dept. of Respiratory Sciences). In 2011 the college awarded me a one year Wellcome Trust VIP award to develop a molecular approach to the identification of fungi and in 2012 I was awarded a five year personal fellowship from the Midlands Asthma and Allergy Research Association (MAARA). I was appointed as a lecturer in April 2017 specialising in Aerobiology and Clinical Mycology. Through my association with MAARA our group has the longest running active pollen and fungal spore record in the UK dating back 50 years.


I am interested in understanding the role fungi play in causing and exacerbating respiratory diseases. My research interest’s fall into two areas: the detection of fungi from respiratory samples and the detection of airborne pollen and fungal spores.

Historically identification of fungi from respiratory samples was scarce in patients with clinical indicators of fungal-related illness. We published a procedure for culturing filamentous fungi from sputum which demonstrated that the routine UK NHS protocols are very insensitive. Using these new methods we made a number of striking observations demonstrating the link between fungal allergy and colonisation and fixed airflow obstruction in asthma and COPD. More recently we have been using high-throughput sequencing techniques to identify the fungal component of the lungs.

Airborne pollen grains are an established cause of allergy related respiratory symptoms in sensitised subjects being the primary cause of hayfever and important exacerbators of asthma. We are interested in looking at airborne pollen and fungal spores outdoors and fungal spores indoors. 


Rick, EM., Woolnough, KF., Seear, PJ., Fairs, A., Satchwell, J., Richardson, M., Monteiro, WR., Craner, M., Bourne, M., Wardlaw, AJ & Pashley, CH. The airway fungal microbiome in asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2020; 50: 1325-1341.

Ozyigit LP, Monteiro, WR, Rick, E M, Satchwell, J, Pashley CH, Wardlaw AJ. Fungal bronchitis is a distinct clinical entity which is responsive to antifungal therapy. Chron Respir Dis. 2020; 18: 1479973120964448.

Adams-Groom B, Skjøth CA, Selby K, Pashley CH, Satchwell J, Head K, Ramsay G, Regional calendars and seasonal statistics for the United Kingdom’s main pollen allergens, Allergy 2020; 75: 1492-1494.

Woolnough KF, Richardson M, Newby C, Craner M, Bourne M, Monteiro W, Siddiqui S, Bradding P, Pashley CH, Wardlaw AJ, The relationship between biomarkers of fungal allergy and lung damage in asthma. Clin Exp Allergy 2016; 47:48-56.

Pashley CH, Satchwell J, Edwards RE, Ragweed pollen: is climate change creating a new aeroallergen problem in the UK? Clin Exp Allergy 2015; 45:1262-1265.

Tonge DP, Pashley CH*, Gant TW*, Amplicon-based metagenomic analysis of mixed fungal samples using proton release amplicon sequencing. Plos One 2014;9: e93849.

Agbetile J, Bourne M, Fairs A, Hargadon B, Desai D, Broad C, Morley J, Bradding P, Brightling CE, Green RH, Haldar P, Pashley CH, Pavord ID, Wardlaw AJ, Effectiveness of voriconazole in the treatment of Aspergillus fumigatus-associated asthma (EVITA3 study). J Allergy Clin Immunol 2014;134: 33-39.

Fairs A, Agbetile J, Bourne M, Hargadon B, Monteiro WR, Morley JP, Edwards RE, Wardlaw AJ, Pashley CH, Aspergillus fumigatus isolation from sputum is associated with elevated airborne levels in homes of patients with asthma Indoor Air 2013;23: 275-284.

Pashley CH, Fairs A, Free RC, Wardlaw AJ, DNA analysis of outdoor air reveals a high degree of fungal diversity, temporal variability, and genera not seen by spore morphology. Fungal Biol 2012;116: 214-224.

Fairs A, Agbetile J, Hargadon B, Bourne M, Monteiro WR, Brightling CE, Bradding P, Green RH, Mutalithas K, Desai D, Pavord ID, Wardlaw AJ, Pashley CH, IgE sensitization to Aspergillus fumigatus is associated with reduced lung function in asthma. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2010;182: 1362-68.


I am happy to supervise PhD students in a wide range of projects encompassing Environmental Mycology (in particular indoor mould) Aerobiology Respiratory Mycology and Fungal allergy


I teach within Biological Sciences on the modules

ADBS001 - Biological Sciences Semester One Tutorials (co-convenor)

BS1040 - The Cell an Introduction to Cell Biology and Microbiology

BS2032 - Immunology and Eukaryotic Microbiology

BS3013 - Human and Environmental Microbiomics

Press and media



Fungal spores

Indoor mould

Respiratory mycology

Fungal allergy

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