Molecular Mycology: Current Approaches to Fungal Pathogenesis
This course addresses the need for more research in the area of fungal diseases as our understanding of the basic pathophysiology of fungal disease lags far behind our understanding of bacterial, parasitic and viral diseases.
Fungal diseases are significant causes of mortality and morbidity in both the developed and the developing world. The recent increases in the incidence and severity of invasive fungal infections are directly attributable to new susceptible patient populations. Examples of these large, at-risk populations include patients with AIDS; hospitalized patients being treated for cancer and autoimmune disorders; andthose receiving organ transplants. Despite this increasing threat, our understanding of the basic pathophysiology of fungal disease lags far behind our understanding of bacterial, parasitic and viral diseases. Furthermore, the number of antifungal therapies in clinical use is limited, and there is a paucity of novel antifungal strategies in the current drug pipeline. To address the need for more research in the area of fungal diseases, this course aims to:
a) increase students’ breadth of knowledge in fungal pathogenesis research
b) introduce and explore both standard and cutting edge model systems for the analysis of fungal virulence
c) create an environment that fosters interactions and idea-exchange among students, faculty, and the greater mycology research community.
Course material is suitable for advanced graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research faculty, and clinician-scientists.
The specific objectives of the Molecular Mycology course:
- To present the current conceptual models for the pathogenesis of medically important fungi, with a focus on the most frequently encountered pathogens – Candida, Cryptococcus, and Aspergillus
- To train students in molecular manipulation of Candida, Cryptococcus, and Aspergillus
- To provide hands on experience with mammalian, invertebrate, and cell culture models to assess virulence and analyze different types of host-pathogen interactions
- To present a broad perspective on experimental issues pertinent to pathogenic fungi, such as the definition and determination of virulence, the determination of host responses relevant to infection, and the quantification of antifungal susceptibility
- To instruct students in techniques relevant to the analysis of the function of fungal gene products such as determination of essentiality, microscopic analysis of morphology and fluorescent protein fusions, comparison of RNA expression profiles of wild-type and mutant strains, assessment of chromosome content
- To provide insight into the clinical aspects of fungal diseases from the perspective of the host and the pathogen
- To provide an introduction to tools for comparative genome and transcriptional analysis
- To discuss research ethics, professional development (academic, industrial, or government careers), and issues specific to the medical mycology field.