J. Andrew Alspaugh, MD
In order to survive within the infected host, pathogenic microorganisms must be able to sense and respond to host-specific signals. Dr. Alspaugh’s main research interest is to understand the molecular mechanisms by which microbial pathogens adapt to the host environment. Using the model fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans, Dr. Alspaugh has identified signal transduction pathways required for this adaptation. Many of these signaling pathways are highly conserved among eukaryotes but have been co-opted by pathogens to specifically allow survival within the host. For example, cAMP and Ras signaling pathways are present in organisms as varied as yeast and man. However, fungal pathogens use these signaling cascades to control their virulence potential. Dr. Alspaugh has discovered conserved and unique components of these signaling pathways that are required for microbial pathogenesis. He has also begun to identify specific components of these pathways that offer new targets for antimicrobial therapy.