It’s a Fungal Jungle Out There! A Discussion with Mary Ann Jabra-Rizk

Dr. Mary Ann Jabra-Rizk is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, where she studies the fungus Candida albicans and its interactions with the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. C. albicans is a normal commensal fungus and S. aureus is also a common human commensal, but both are also opportunistic pathogens of humans. Fungi and bacteria are separated by several billion years of evolution, and yet Dr. Jabra-Rizk is studying how these organisms communicate with each other and team up to enhance their virulence. Dr. Jabra-Rizk talks about fungal-bacterial coinfections, the difficulty of effectively treating polymicrobial infections, and how she asked for her first microscope at the age of 13. The MicroCase for listeners to solve is about Bear Britches, a college student who goes to Spring Break to cut loose and have fun, only to return with an infectious disease.

 

Participants:

Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)

Mary Ann Jabra-Rizk, Ph.D. (University of Maryland)

Jose Lopez-Ribot, Ph.D., Pharm.D. (UTSA)

Jesus Romo (UTSA)

Time for Lyme: A Discussion with Dr. Steve Norris

Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/The University of Texas Medical School at Houston Office of Communications
Dr. Steve Norris – Pathology

Dr. Steven Norris is a Professor at the University of Texas Health Houston, where he studies Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the U.S. and it can lead to lifelong debilitating conditions, including arthritis and neurological symptoms. Dr. Norris has been studying B. burgdorferi for many years in his laboratory, and investigated various aspects of how this organism causes disease in infected hosts, including its motility, surface proteins, and plasmids. Dr. Norris discusses everything you ever wanted to know about Lyme disease, including how people get the disease, the prospect for vaccines and eradication, the difficulty of working with this and other spirochetes in the lab, and his hobby of paleontology. The MicroCase for listeners to solve is about Wolfgang Schweinsteiger, the German accordion player who fulfills his lifelong dream to go to the Grand Canyon, only to come down with a deadly disease.

 

Participants:

Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)

Steve Norris, Ph.D. (UT Health Houston)

Janakiram Seshu, Ph.D. (UTSA)

Rachel Chen (UTSA)

Dr. Andrew Alspaugh is a physician and Professor of Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine. Dr. Alspaugh is a mycologist, which means he studies fungi. Fungi typically cause serious and sometimes fatal disease in immunocompromised people. It is difficult to treat and prevent fungal diseases in these patients, due to their poorly functioning immune systems.

Dr. Alspaugh is doing research on Cryptococcus neoformans, a common fungal infection of HIV-infected individuals. Dr. Alspaugh discusses fungal infections and the development of treatments and cures, his involvement in training mycologists at Woods Hole in Massachusetts, and how physician-patient interaction influences the research in his laboratory.

The MicroCase for listeners to solve is about Grumpy McGrumpface, the retired out-of-shape accountant who tries to get physically fit, only to come down with a life-threatening illness.

Participants:

  • Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Andrew Alspaugh, M.D. (Duke University)
  • Floyd Wormley, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Jose Lopez-Ribot, Ph.D. (UTSA)