VFCE Members

University of Arizona employees or Banner Health professionals who are authorized to be a principal investigator on sponsored project.

Valley Fever Center for Excellence, Director
Professor, Internal Medicine

Dr. Galgiani received his MD from Northwestern Medical School and completed a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Stanford. In 1978, he joined the faculty of the University of Arizona where he has remained ever since, currently as Professor of Medicine.  Dr. Galgiani has focused his career on the special problem of coccidioidomycosis, also known as Valley fever.  His work has included studies of the impact of Valley fever on the general population and on special groups such as organ transplant recipients and patients with AIDS and is the lead author on the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s practice guidelines for coccidioidomycosis.  In 1996, Dr. Galgiani founded the Valley Fever Center for Excellence.  In collaboration with Banner Health, Dr. Galgiani developed and is now implementing a training program for primary care clinicians for prompt recognition and optimal management of patients with new Valley fever infections.  The Center’s research has recently developed a vaccine candidate to prevent Valley fever in dogs and potentially in humans.

Professor, Epidemiology & Biostatistics

As an academic biostatistician, I collaborate with researchers in a variety of disciplines, including the clinicians and scientists at the Valley Fever Center of Excellence.  I have provided study design and biostatistical analysis support on projects ranging from vaccine development to the assessment and development of prediction models from clinical data.

Research Assistant Professor, Bio5 Institute

Dr Buntzman’s research leverages transcriptomics, high throughput computational immunogenomics, and genetics methodologies to reveal the adaptive immune response characteristics that are central to the pathogenesis of coccidioidomycosis infections and the protective immunity generated by vaccination. Dr Buntzman’s global goals are to improve diagnostic testing and to develop novel therapeutics modalities for patients with coccidioidomycosis.

Professor, School of Geography, Development & Envrionment, Hydrology & Atmospheric Science, Public Health

Andrew Comrie is an interdisciplinary climate scientist and geographer. His research links climate with health, pathogens and vectors, including coccidioidomycosis. He focuses on questions such as: How do disease patterns shift in space and time with changes in climate? His expertise includes climate and health, air quality, and climate variability and change in the Southwest US. He has held senior campus leadership positions and is currently chief academic officer for the Arizona Board of Regents.


Associate Professor, Internal Medicine

As both a practicing physician and a research scientist, Dr. Donovan has long cultivated a particular interest in medical mycology. Her research focuses on the identification of virulence factors and the interaction of several fungi with the human host. She conducted studies in Coccidioides with goals to help in the earlier diagnosis of Valley fever to improve patient outcomes, lower costs and heighten antibiotic stewardship. Additionally, she is developing plans to study the host innate immune response to Coccidioides with a focus on the early events in coccidioidomycosis.

Associate Professor, Epidemiology
Associate Professor, Infectious Diseases

Dr. Ellingson’s research focuses on the intersection of healthcare delivery and infectious diseases. She has worked with the Valley Fever Center for Excellence to assess diagnostic testing in outpatient and emergency care settings and to understand factors associated with the inappropriate use of antibiotics for patients with Valley fever. Dr. Ellingson is interested in the clinical epidemiology of Valley fever and how early diagnosis can improve care.

Research Consultant

The Frelinger lab has been interested for some years in immune responses to the lung pathogens, influenza virus and Francisella tularensis. They have begun collaborations on the role of T cell responses in Coccidioides infections and the development of an effective vaccine.

Assistant Professor, Medicine

Dr. Hayes's research and projects primarily focus on optimizing antimicrobial usage and limiting unnecessary diagnostic testing. His research interests related to Valley fever involve studying antifungal usage and stewardship in an endemic region for Valley fever. He is currently studying the utilization of antifungal agents, such as fluconazole, across multiple hospitals to define targets for antifungal stewardship. He is an active member of the Mycoses Study Group Education and Research Consortium and participates in MSG-sponsored clinical trials (previously an investigator for MSG-15: Suba-itraconazole versus conventional itraconazole in the treatment of endemic mycoses: a multi-center, open-label, randomized comparative trial).

Associate Professor, Immunobiology

The Johnson laboratory focuses on how microbes react to metal stress. He hopes to exploit microbial systems to make better treatments in bacterial and fungal systems. Dr. Johnson collaborates with the Galgiani laboratory as a protein biochemist to make new formulations of the CTS1 protein for diagnostics and understanding immunity. 

Professor, Internal Medicine
Research Director, Lung Insitute
Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs

Dr. Knox's research utilizes human blood and lung cells to study the characteristics of a protective immune response to Coccidioides. He is funded to develop a blood test to diagnose Valley fever and to determine who has been infected in the past.  Dr. Knox is also interested in determining non-invasive ways to diagnose and discriminate lung nodules related to past Valley fever infection from cancer nodules.

Professor, Management Information Systems
Associate Dean for Research, Eller College of Management

My research focuses on machine learning and applied natural language processing. I believe that clinical notes contain information relevant to earlier diagnosis of VF.

Associate Professor, Medicine

My work in Valley fever has generally focused on diagnostics, with a particular interest in the varied clinical and radiographic presentations of the disease and collaborative efforts focused on the development of novel diagnostics. In addition, as a transplant pulmonologist, I have clinical and research interests in the presentation and management of Valley fever in immunocompromised patients.

Principal Research Specialist, Medicine

Dr. Mandel's research focuses on defining mechanisms of the pathogenicity in Coccidioides by using molecular genetic methods and gene expression studies to understand the transition from the saprobic to the parasitic  growth phase. She has developed tools for efficiently disrupt Coccidioides genes.  She has been instrumental in work defining the role of CPS1, the gene that was deleted in the Valley fever live-attenuated vaccine, in Coccidioides. 

Professor, Pharmacy Practice & Science

Dr. Nix just completed a project looking at azole usage in Part D Medicare recipients throughout the US.  Arizona was the the state with the highest overall days supply and overall costs.  

Professor, School of Plant Sciences

Dr. Orbach is a fungal geneticist and molecular biologist in the School of Plant Sciences at the University of Arizona. His laboratory studies the mechanisms of virulence of fungal plant and animal pathogens, with a focus on Coccidioides. His work studying Coccidioides virulence factors led to the discovery and development of the delta-cps1 vaccine against Coccidioidomycosis.

Assistant Research Scientist

Dr. Powell is an Assistant Research Scientist in the Valley Fever Center for Excellence.  His work focuses on the use of animal models to study the host response to both Coccidioides vaccination as well as infection.  Dr. Powell uses a variety of transgenic mouse models coupled with cellular immunology to dissect these host responses. His particular interest is in the initial recognition steps that allow some hosts to control infection where others do not. 

Research Scientist

Dr. Shubitz is a Research Scientist at The Valley Fever Center for Excellence. Her research focus includes developing a vaccine for Valley fever, studying the epidemiology of the disease in canines, the ecological distribution of the fungus in Southern Arizona and interactions between the host (both animal and human) and the fungus that causes Valley fever, using animal models.

Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry

My group investigates how a key virulence related protein in the fungal pathogen that causes Valley fever, CPS1, functions during its life cycle. The CPS1 protein is important because it can be knocked out to create a strain of the organism that is not virulent and may make a suitable vaccine candidate.  We use a high-powered imaging technique, cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), to proved near atomic level images of the CPS1 protein to understand how it recognizes and acts on its substrate. We combine cryo-EM with with biochemical assays and light microscopy to gain an understanding of CPS1 activity.

Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
Director, Transplant and Immunocompromised Host Infectious Diseases Service

Dr. Zangeneh is a Transplant Infectious Diseases physician who is involved in the daily care of immunocompromised patients affected by various infections. His research interests related to Valley fever involve studying coccidioidomycosis diagnostics and management in HSCT and SOT recipients. He is a member of the American Society of Transplantation and has published numerous articles relating to coccidioidomycosis in immunocompromised patients.