We investigate the immune response to human fungal pathogens and, conversely, the mechanisms that enable fungi to cause infectious diseases. To illuminate these processes, we generate fluorescent-based tools to monitor the outcome of fungal cell – host cell encounters and examine the role of both inhaled fungal spores and of endogenous fungal communities, termed the mycobiome, in fungal disease development.
All people encounter, inhale, and ingest fungi on a daily basis. Although only several hundred of the estimated five million species of fungi worldwide cause disease in humans, advances in medical technologies and the global AIDS pandemic have dramatically increased our susceptibility to fungal disease.
In cancer and bone marrow transplant patients, the filamentous mold Aspergillus fumigatus and the commensal fungus Candida albicans represent significant causes of infection-related morbidity and mortality. At present, no fungal vaccines have been licensed for clinical use, and contemporary antifungal therapies for systemic mycoses are often ineffective in patients with disease- or treatment-associated damage to the immune system. My laboratory’s research centers on the theme of fungal pathogenesis and immunology, with a primary focus on deciphering the molecular and cellular events required for effective antifungal immunity.