Researchers

Director, Valley Fever Center for Excellence
Professor, Medicine

Dr. Galgiani has been working with Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis) for the last four decades. As Director of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence his passion is research in the treatment of Valley Fever. This involves studies to improve the detection of the fungus in the environment, to increase the sensitivity of diagnostic tests for patients, and to develop a vaccine to prevent the disease in both humans and animals.


Professor of Medicine
Staff physician, SAVAHCS

Dr. Ampel is currently a clinician at Mayo Clinic in Arizona and an Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona. His interests in coccidioidomycosis include clinical care and the cellular immune response to coccidioidomycosis in humans


Professor, School of Geography & Development
Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences, Public Health

Andrew Comrie is an interdisciplinary climate scientist and geographer. He has a primary appointment as professor in the School of Geography & Development, with joint appointments in Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences and in Public Health. 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, synoptic climatology, urban and regional air pollution, climate variability and change in the Southwest United States, and techniques for mapping climate and environmental information.


Assistant Professor, 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.


Professor, Pediatrics

In addition to serving as a professor of clinical pediatrics, Dr. Elliott works as a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at the University of Arizona Medical Center. His research interst in coccidiodomycosis lies in understanding and preventing the disease. His other areas of interest include toxin-mediated diseases, bladder dysfunction and urinary tract infections, and graduate medical education efficacy. 


Research Scientist
Professor, Immunobiology

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, Immunobiology
Assistant Professor, BIO5 Institute

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

Dr. Knox's research has been focused on various clinical and translational projects dealing with coccidioidomycosis including the use of bronchoalveolar lavage to study the lung mucosal responses to Coccidioides. He has also been working on improving ways to diagnose valley fever and determining non-invasive ways to diagnose nodules related to valley fever as they mimic cancer nodules.


Associate Director, Bio5 Informatics
Professor, Medicine

Infrequent diseases of complex inheritance may affect as many as 20% of the population, yet they remain extremely difficult to study as conventional statistics have been developed for the study of large cohorts. Dr. Lussier and his team have developed a suite of analytical methods to study small cohort and single subjects. These approaches are particularly well suited to elucidate the biomolecular mechanisms of disseminated coccidioidomycosis risk, an infrequent disease for which the complex genetic risks remains unsolved. In addition, solving one such disease provides the evidence for solving others.


Research Specialist, Principal

Dr. Mandel’s current research has been focused on the mechanisms of the pathogenicity of Coccidioides species. With this goal, she has been able to develop tools for gene disruption in order to understand the genes’ relationship to virulence. She hopes to use her research to understand the transition from the organism’s state of inability to cause disease while in the soil to a state of being able to cause disease once inside a host.


Director, Internal Medicine Residency Program
Assistant Professor, Medicine

Dr. Meinke's research interests are in the area of infectious disease in immunocompromised patient populations. She is currently working on a project involving cocci in recipients of throacic solid organ transplants (lungs, heart/lungs). 


Professor, Pharmacy Practice-Science
Associate Professor, Medicine

Dr. Nix has played a key role in the design and implementation of the Nikkomycin Z clinical trials at the Valley Fever Center for Excellence. He teaches infectious disease topics in multiple courses and precepts students and residents on infectious disease rotations. His other research interests include treatment of bacterial infections, antibacterial resistance and antimicrobial stewardship.


Professor, School of Plant Sciences

Dr. Orbach is a professor of plant pathology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. His focus is based on studying the ecological niche of the fungus that causes Valley Fever and the analysis of the global gene expression in Coccidioides posadasii during both saprobic and parasitic growth. In his analysis, he has been working with the Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE). His research interests also include the molecular genetics of fungal pathogenicity in animals and plants.


Research Scientist
Associate Research Professor, ACBS

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
Division of Community, Environment and Policy

Dr. Tabor is an assistant professor in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. His research in Valley Fever is focused on the epidemiology and ecology of coccidiodomycosis. In addition, his research interests include the epidemiology of dieases with strong environmental determinants and the ecology of infectious diseases. He is also interested in the health workforce and decisional support which balances public health, environmental protection, and economic development in both domestic and international settings. 


Professor, School of Geography and Development

Dr. Yool's chief interest in coccidioidomycosis involves remote sensing and GIS modeling of Coccidiodes habitat. He also conducts research in plant geography, landscape ecology, global change, space-time variability of natural vegetation, impacts of human disturbances and natural disturbances on the Earth's biosphere, mapping change in the Southwest borderlands and fire mapping science.