Floyd Wormley is youngest president ever of international medical society

Floyd Wormley

Floyd Wormley

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(July 5, 2010)--Floyd L. Wormley Jr., UTSA associate professor of microbiology and immunoology in the College of Sciences recently was elected president of the Medical Mycological Society of the Americas (MMSA). Medical mycology is the study of fungal organisms that cause infectious diseases. Wormley, 38, is the youngest president in the history of the MMSA, the leading professional organization for mycology researchers in North, Central and South America.

"Collaboration is the key to advancing meaningful, impactful research that benefits public health," said Wormley. "Over the next year, I will encourage international collaborations to increase the number of young scientists in our society and the number of Latin American scientists who join."

As an active researcher and member of the UTSA South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Wormley rapidly has made significant contributions to the medical mycology profession.

As a Ph.D. student at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC), he researched immune responses to vaginal infections caused by the fungus Candida albicans.

As a post-doctoral fellow at Duke University, his research advanced the understanding of host-pathogen interactions during infections caused by the fungus Cryptococcus neoformans. C. neoformans infections are very dangerous for individuals with compromised immune systems such as AIDS, cancer and transplant patients.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, Wormley continues his study of C. neoformans at UTSA. Wormley has developed an engineered strain of C. neoformans that not only does not cause disease, but acts as an effective vaccine against Cryptococcus infections in mice.

He expects his research to lead to the development of anti-fungal drugs that protect immune-compromised patients from the infection and to serve as a model for researchers studying other infections caused by fungi.

"I have known Floyd Wormley for a very long time," said Paul Fidel, director of the LSUHSC Center of Excellence in Oral and Craniofacial Biology. "He is one of the most dedicated and resilient investigators I have had the pleasure to know. While still very early in his career he has now been voted by his peers to lead a storied society rich in culture for medical mycology. The MMSA is in excellent hands with Floyd at the helm and will surely be richer for it and significantly stronger as a result of his leadership."