Research

 

Infectious Disease Division faculty perform clinical as well as basic science research. Close scientific collaborative relationships exist with the Department of Immunobiology, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Crticial Care and Sleep Medicine, and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

Important resources available to researchers at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson include animal care facilities as well as a veterinary diagnostic laboratory; biostatistical, bioinformatics and computing core services; flow cytometry, microscopy, genomics and proteomics cores; a clinical translational science center that supports clinical trials; and the UA Sarver Heart Center; the UA Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center; the UA Center on Aging; and the UA Cancer Center—a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center—as well as other centers and institutes both related to the UA Department of Medicine and UA Health Sciences.

UA Infectious Diseases Research Investigator Profiles

HIV

Scanning electromicrograph (right) of an HIV-infected T cell.

A variety of HIV-related research is performed by division faculty ranging from clinical studies of optimal implementation of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and other interventions to reduce coronary artery disease, to basic immunology research aimed at finding a cure for HIV infection. Many of these studies draw upon the patient population that is served by the Petersen HIV Clinics.

LEARN MORE 

Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)

Spherule of Coccidioides immitis (left) with endospores.

One of the missions of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence is to promote research that will improve the care of people with Valley fever (also known as coccidioidomycosis, or cocci) and eventually prevent the disease. Ongoing studies include a clinical trial of empiric treatment for Valley fever along with routine treatment of community acquired pneumonia, as well as more basic studies to investigate the genetics associated with disseminated disease and to develop a vaccine against coccidiodomycosis—both in animals and humans.

LEARN MORE 

Kissing Bugs

Triatominae (right), a subfamily of Reduviidae, are known also as conenose, kissing, assassin or vampire bugs.

Kissing bug bites can trigger serious allergic reactions in humans as well as transmit disease to people and their pets. Bugs infected with the parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, can cause Chagas disease, which has two phases, acute and chronic. Acute symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting within several weeks of a bite. One-third of people with Chagas may suffer chronic issues that may lead to an enlarged heart or intestinal cavity, which is why it’s important to catch symptoms early. Eleven species of kissing bugs exist across 28 U.S. states, including Arizona. Among ongoing projects are an effort to determine and evaluate the emergence of a kissing bug species, Triatoma recurva, in Bisbee, Ariz., and monitoring kissing bug home intrusion in Tucson.

Learn more

Transplant Infections

Our Transplant Infectious Diseases program is dedicated to improving the care of transplant patients through research. Ongoing studies are aimed at understanding the influence of different therapies on clinical outcomes of invasive fungal infections, the prevalence and clinical outcomes of de novo coccidiodomycosis infections in solid organ transplant patients, a meta-analysis of treatment outcomes in drug-resistant CMV (Cytomegalovirus) infections, and predisposing factors and clinical outcomes of nocardiosis in solid organ transplant patients. 

Current Research Studies

For UA research studies, including those currently accepting clinical subjects, see the following topics related to our Division:

“BELIEVE: Bench to Bed Enhanced Lymphocyte Infusions to Engineer Viral Eradication” 
Co-Investigator: Elizabeth Connick, MD
This research hypothesizes that enhancing patients' autologous lymphocytes ex vivo and re-infusing them, along with latency reversing agents, and specific targeting to sites where latent virus resides, could lead to eradication of latently infected cells and potentially a cure for HIV infected patients.

“Mechanisms Underlying Persistent Lentivirus Replication in Follicular T Cells”  
Co-principal investigator: Elizabeth Connick, MD
The aim of the proposed study is to determine the mechanisms underlying the concentration of HIV-1 replication within B cell follicles. The hypothesis is that persistent HIV-1 replication within follicles is due to heightened susceptibility of CD4+ follicular T helper cells to lentivirus infection, the presence of potently infectious virin-antibody complexes on follicular dendritic cells in germinal centers, and deficiencies in number and function of follicular virus-specific CD8+ T cells. If these hypotheses are true, they would suggest targets for therapeutic strategies that could lead to a protective vaccine or a cure.

“Evaluating the Use of Pitavastatin to Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in HIV-Infected Adults (REPRIEVE)”  
Investigators: Elizabeth Connick, MD (right)Lori Fantry, MD, and Anca Georgescu, MD
This study is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, with additional infrastructure support provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. People infected with HIV are at risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). The study will evaluate the use of pitavastatin to reduce the risk of CVD in adults infected with HIV who are on antiretroviral therapy (ART).

“HIV-1, INSUFFICIENT SLEEP AND VASCULAR ENDOTHELIAL DYSFUNCTION”
Investigator: Elizabeth Connick, MD
The aim of this proposal to: 1) to determine the influence of chronic insufficient sleep (< 6.5 hours/night) on vascular endothelial vasodilator and fibrinolytic function in antiretroviral-treated older HIV-1-seropositive adults; and 2) whether increasing habitual sleep duration and quality will improve vascular health in this population.

“Pathogenesis and Genetics of Disseminated or Refractory Coccidioidomycosis”
​Investigator: John Galgiani, MD
Coccidioidomycosis is caused by a fungus that grows in the U.S. Southwest, parts of Mexico and South America. This disease is caused by breathing dust containing the fungus. Infection can lead to serious lung and breathing problems. When it spreads outside the lungs, this is called disseminated coccidioidomycosis (DCM). If the fungus stays in the lungs for more than 6 months, it is called refractory coccidioidomycosis (RCM). People with DCM or RCM may have difficulty fighting off infection because of immune system problems. Researchers want to study the immune systems of people with DCM or RCM, to learn more about the disease and the best ways to treat it.

“IMMUNO-GENETIC BASIS FOR HUMAN DISSEMINATED COCCIDIOIDOMYCOSIS” 
Investigators: John Galgiani, MD, and Yves Lussier, MD (right) 
This project permits investigators at the National Institutes of Health and the UA to work together, utilizing unique resources of each institution. Findings from these studies may provide new tests to determine which persons are at risk of serious disease if they contract Valley Fever. They may also help in the development of preventative vaccines.

“EARLY FLUCONAZOLE TREATMENT FOR COCCIDIODOMYCOSIS PNEUMONIA” 
Investigators: John N. Galgiani, MD, and Kenneth S. Knox, MD (right)
This is a Phase IV randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study in 1,000 individuals age 18 or older, with community-acquired pneumonia. It's designed to provide data on effectiveness of early antifungal treatment (Fluconazole, 400 mg/day) for coccidioidomycosis pneumonia (Valley fever pneumonia or acute onset Valley fever) vs. placebo in subjects with coccidioidomycosis pneumonia.

"Examining Utility of Text Messages on Increasing Adherence for Latent TB Infection"
Investigators: Eyal Oren, MPH (right), and Lori Fantry, MD, MPH
As Tuberculosis (TB) treatment regimens can be many months long, adherence to TB medication may be difficult for some to complete. The TXT4MED study will enroll patients from the Refugee Clinic into a clinical trial. The purpose of the study is to determine whether text message reminders to take TB medication are a low cost, effective means of improving adherence to TB treatment regimens. 

“AN OBSERVATIONAL DISEASE REGISTRY OF PATIENTS TREATED WITH SYSTEMIC MOLD-ACTIVE TRIAZOLES”
Investigator: Tirdad Zangeneh, DO (on right at right)
This study seeks to describe representative real-world patterns of care for the management of invasive fungal infections (IFIs), including invasive mold infection (IMI). Specifically, the study goals are to examine real world patient characteristics and treatment patterns, associated healthcare resource utilization, and outcomes associated with use of mold-active triazoles (MATs) to treat IFIs.

“Non Interventional Registry Study of Systemic Antifungal Therapy in Adult Subjects with Invasive Mucormycosis or Invasive Aspergillosis Caused by a Non fumigatus Species” 
Investigator: Tirdad Zangeneh, DO  
The objective of this study is to obtain and report outcome data for adult patients who received systemic antifungal therapy (AFT) for the treatment of invasive mucormycosis (IM) or invasive aspergillosis (IA) caused by a non-fumigatus species.

“Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Knowledge, Attitudes, and Barriers Among Individuals with Limited Access to Medical Care and from Diverse Ethnic Backgrounds”
Investigator: Lori Fantry, MD, MPH

“PrEP Uptake and Emergent HIV infections in Southern Arizona: Is There A Disconnect?”
Investigator: Anca Georgescu, MD

“Pathogenesis of Rebound SIV/HIV Viremia After Antiretroviral Therapy"
Investigator: Elizabeth Connick, MD

“The Cost of Delays in Diagnosing Early Coccidioidal Infection at BUMC Tucson”
Investigator: Fariba Donovan, MD, PhD

“Refugee Healthcare Quality Improvement Project”
Investigator: Steve Klotz, MD

“Testing for Chagas in Victims of Kissing Bug Bites”
Investigator: Steve Klotz, MD

“Massive Bee Envenomation”
Investigator: Steve Klotz, MD

Current Clinical Trials

Faculty at the College of Medicine – Tucson also engage in clinical trials to develop new, more effective therapeutic remedies for infectious diseases. This often involves a research study conducted to evaluate a medical procedure or medical product, such as a drug. Not all UA studies involve drugs or interventions. Some studies use surveys or evaluate medical records to find new and better ways to help people. Others recruit healthy subjects, or controls, to better evaluate and compare results with those of non-healthy subjects. 

Find other clinical trials at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson

How to Participate

Whether you are a potential clinical trial candidate as a patient or subject in the study, you would like to participate as a “healthy volunteer” for the control group, or you’re a research or clinical professional interested in collaborating with the research team — just contact the study coordinator or principal investigator listed for each individual clinical research study above.

You may also reach out directly to the office of the Division of Infectious Diseases, (520) 626-6886 — mgseiter@deptofmed.arizona.edu — for additional information.