I am an Infectious Diseases physician-scientist with over 28 years of experience in medical mycology. During my career, I have been working in the clinic and at the bench, teaching and training many students, post-docs and junior faculty at Duke University, the Medical University of South Carolina, and now at Stony Brook University and at the Northport VA Medical Center. My overall career goal is to bring a new antifungal in the clinic, and I am closer than ever with MicroRid Technologies Inc., a start-up company I co-founded for the research and development of new antifungal drugs. My laboratory pioneered the studies on lipid-mediated infectious diseases. My lab and my co-workers reached such a high visibility in this field that we are continuously contacted for consultant work by investigators from all over the world for lipid analysis in their favorite organisms. My studies have mostly focused on fungal infections, particularly invasive fungal infections, because they are on the rise in our Veterans and in our non-Veterans populations. As we live longer thanks to many benefits of chemo- and immunosuppressive-therapies and organ transplantations, we are also facing a rise of invasive fungal infectious diseases. Current antifungals are either fungistatic, toxic, with narrow spectrum of activity or they become resistant. New treatment strategies are needed. In addition to develop a new class of antifungal agents, the studies in my laboratory are also crucial to the understanding of the host mechanisms required for fungal containment versus fungal dissemination and disease. For these studies, I partnered with many collaborators at the VA medical centers, at various Universities, and at the industry setting, establishing fruitful and successful collaborations. The VA RCS award will allow our group to continue this great work and will provide stability to fulfill the current goals and to start new research directions. The RCS Award will also allow me to broaden my collaborative research even further, particularly with the VA physicians involved in the MVP, enhancing my research clinical enterprise, and to continue my service to the scientific community at the VA and beyond.
Fungal infections are a major source of morbidity and mortality in veterans with compromised immune systems as a result of AIDS, substance abuse, or whose going under treatment for malignancy, autoimmune disease, or organ transplantation. Antifungal therapies are often inadequate and fungal resistant organisms to current antifungals are in the rise. Thus, studies that enhance knowledge of microbial pathogenesis and pulmonary host defense are essential for the development of new therapeutic strategies to treat these patient populations. Dr. Del Poeta?s studies identify and examine a new class of antifungal agents, a new fungal vaccine and new fungal and host pathways involved in the fungal pathogenic process. His studies also dissect interactions of microbial factors with host defenses to identify mechanisms of fungal evasion. These studies are an essential step in design new therapies against these infections.