Microbiology & Immunology Adjunct Faculty
Garry T. Cole, Ph.D.
Research in my laboratory is focused both on development of human and veterinary vaccines against fungal diseases, and investigations of virulence mechanisms of medically-important fungi. Fungal infections of humans continue to escalate as the number of immunocompromised patients increases. Coccidioides is a human fungal pathogen that can also cause mild to fatal respiratory disease (coccidioidomycosis, San Joaquin Valley fever, desert rheumatism) in immunocompetent individuals. About 30 million people reside in the endemic regions of the United States (West Texas to Southern California), and over 350,000 military personnel are stationed in desert and semi-desert areas of the U.S. where Coccidioides is abundant in the soil. Inhalation of Coccidioides spores causes symptomatic disease in more than 40% of infected individuals, and is responsible for escalating health care costs for long term antimicrobial treatment of patients who contract this mycosis. Although about 50% of the people exposed to Coccidioides may only experience mild discomfort and do not seek medical intervention, clinical evidence suggests that reactivation of the respiratory disease can occur months to years after the original insult. Therefore, even people with mild symptoms of Coccidioides infection are at risk of contracting the respiratory disease later in life. No person-to-person transmission of coccidioidomycosis is known to occur, except in rare cases of maternal-fetal transmission.
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Graduate Students in Dr. Coles's lab
- Amanda Munoz