Battling Infectious Diseases from Kissing Bugs to HIV

A Department of Medicine Research Spotlight

Professor of Medicine
Medical Director, Petersen HIV Clinics
Director, Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program

Kissing bug drawingAs a physician-scientist focused on infectious diseases, my research interests include the following:

Kissing Bugs and Allergies: We have been working on kissing bugs for a number of years. Bites from these true bugs are the most common cause of bite-associated anaphylaxis in the United States. In addition, bites can lead to Chagas disease. We are currently working on determining the effectiveness of a skin lotion we developed in preventing kissing bug feeding. We have discovered several potential chemical inhibitors of feeding by these bugs and are now working on measuring their effectiveness. This research includes culture of kissing bugs and measurement of feeding.

Serum amyloid P component (SAP) and fungal phagocytosis: This project is to measure the presence or absence of opsonization of Candida yeasts coated with serum amyloid P component. SAP is part of the biofilm in invasive fungal infections and at least with bacteria is an anti-opsonin. We are culturing human monocytes and interacting them with Candida yeasts to measure phagocytosis. We will coat the fungi with SAP and determine if this inhibits phagocytosis of the fungi. This research includes the use of fluorescent microscopy, cell culture, and amyloid stains.

Frailty in HIV: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patients are recruited into a study looking at their performance in a virtual exercise and the relationship to depression. We measure frailty using the Fried criteria and those with depression as determined on a standard questionnaire are asked to participate in a twice a week, six-week long exercise protocol using virtual exercise. We are attempting to ameliorate depression in HIV patients with computer-driven, virtual reality exercise games of our devising. This research measures frailty as well as virtual exercise performance.

Release Date: 
03/15/2016 - 12:30pm