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International fungi experts to convene in San Antonio

San Antonio (May 23, 2003) — Eight hundred scientists from throughout the world will gather in San Antonio May 25-29 for the 15th Congress of the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology. Eight researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC) played lead roles in organizing this important meeting.

Topics for presentation and discussion will include sick building syndrome, changes in disease patterns and new treatments for fungal infections. "The biggest issue is that fungal infections have dramatically increased in recent years in humans," said Spencer W. Redding, D.D.S., professor of general dentistry in the UTHSC Dental School and a member of the meeting Scientific Committee. "Twenty years ago, we saw far more bacterial infections than fungal. As a result, not nearly as much activity occurred in developing drugs for fungal infections. Now, fungal infections have emerged as a serious public health problem."

Fungal infections are of special concern to immune-suppressed individuals such as those with HIV, organ and bone marrow transplant recipients, and older individuals. "The Candida and Aspergillis families of fungi are major causes of sickness and death in immune-suppressed patients," Dr. Redding said. UTHSC's Michael G. Rinaldi, Ph.D., professor of pathology, is Congress president and John R. Graybill, M.D., professor of medicine, is program chairman.

UTHSC is one of a few institutions in the country with broad expertise in both basic science and clinical aspects of fungal diseases, he said. Studies on campus are demonstrating how the expression of genes changes when a fungus develops resistance over time. "It is clearly recognized internationally what we are doing here," Dr. Redding said.

Contact: Will Sansom