The increasing burden of fungal disease in the world combined with the emergence of treatment resistant organisms is an alarming challenge to medicine and human health.
The Klein Research Group is a molecular medical mycology research group with two broad areas of focus: fungal pathogenesis and immunology.
Our primary research interest is the pathogen Blastomyces dermatitidis, a thermally dimorphic fungus endemic in Wisconsin and the Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri river valleys. Blastomyces is a primary human pathogen and is a useful model for the other pathogenic dimorphic fungi such as Histoplasma capsulatum, Coccidioides immitis, Paracoccidioides brasiliensis, Sporothrix schenckii, and Penicillium marneffei, Blastomyces exists as a mold in the soil but transitions to a yeast form at 37°C. Infection occurs when the spore or mold form is inhaled to the lungs. Once in the lungs, transition from the spore to the yeast form is required for disease progression. We are interested in the molecular mechanisms that govern the transition of the mold to the yeast form with the goal of developing novel anti-fungal therapies.
In order to further address the burden of fungal disease, we have developed a vaccine strain of Blastomyces. Another focus of our research program is to understand the mechanism of vaccine-induced immunity to Blastomyces and other fungal pathogens. We investigate both the innate and adaptive response to Blastomyces using fungi that we have engineered to express model antigens. Furthermore, we examine the recognition of fungal surface components (such as the virulence factor BAD-1) by the innate immune system and examine the inflammatory consequences in the host. By understanding the immunological mechanism of vaccine-induced protection we aim to produce effective and long-lasting vaccines against fungal pathogens.
The multiple projects in the lab address common questions in pathogenesis and immunology: what are the mechanisms of fungal virulence, how does the host-pathogen interaction define the progression of infection and disease, how does the immune system respond to fungal infection, and what are the key immunological steps required for vaccine induced immunity to fungal pathogens?
- Mechanisms of phase transition in dimorphic fungi
- Mechanisms of vaccine induced immunity to fungi
- Innate and adaptive immune responses to fungi
- Characterization of host-pathogen interactions in fungal infections
- Targeted development of novel anti-fungal compounds
Pediatrics faculty share expertise: April 2023
University of Wisconsin Department of Pediatrics faculty are at the forefront of media coverage as local, state, and national journalists seek out experts on the topics of child health, parenting, vaccinations, and COVID-19, to name …May 1, 2023
Bruce Klein and research team awarded $2 million grant for vaccine and drug treatment against white-nose syndrome, fungal disease deadly to bats
In a private-public collaboration, the National Science Foundation and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation have awarded a grant of more the $2 million for a research project to combat white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease …March 27, 2023
Marcel Wuethrich awarded research grant to continue studies of potential antifungal vaccines
Marcel Wuethrich, PhD, distinguished scientist in the Division of Infectious Diseases, was awarded a research grant from the UW Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (OVCRGE) for $79,847 for his project …March 7, 2023
Be wary in the woods: An endemic Wisconsin fungus can cause serious respiratory illness
For more than 30 years, Bruce Klein, MD, professor and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, with appointments in the Departments of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and Medicine, and his research team have been …November 25, 2022
Bruce Klein granted second NIH MERIT award, continues investigation of pathological fungus in Wisconsin
In 1984, a new infectious disease fellow at the University of Wisconsin Medical School (as it was then called), Bruce Klein, MD, made his first visit to Eagle River, Wisconsin, leading a team of scientists …September 15, 2022
- More News....