(July 23, 2018) -- Chiung-Yu Hung, assistant professor of biology at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has received a five-year, $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support her efforts to create a vaccine for fungal infections.
Unlike bacteria or viruses, there is currently no vaccine available for any type of fungal infection. Fungi are more complex organisms, containing far more components, which makes developing an effective vaccine to battle them much more difficult than efforts to combat a virus or bacterial infection.
Hung’s work focuses on two types of the fungus Coccidioides, which exists in the soil of Southwest Texas, Southern Arizona, California and Northern Mexico. When the soil is disturbed by animals or humans, the fungal spores are released into the air, causing a respiratory infection called valley fever.
“Any human living in the endemic area could inhale the spores into their lungs, which causes an infection,” Hung said. “The majority of people don’t feel it, but some of them will develop flu-like symptoms and a small portion could even develop chronic pneumonia.”
Without proper treatment, the fungus could also spread to the central nervous system, where it could cause meningitis, a potentially fatal condition. Hung’s goal is to stop these infections before they occur by developing what could be the first anti-fungal vaccine.
“It’s a testament to the advances in vaccines for viruses and bacteria that this effort is now possible,” Hung said. “It’s very exciting to be breaking new ground and working to create something that could prevent illness and even save lives.”
As a member of the UTSA South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Hung is one of many researchers specializing in the study of vaccine development, biodefense, immunology and molecular microbiology. She is the author of several studies on Coccidioides and similar fungi.
“I welcome the HHS funding for University of Texas at San Antonio’s (UTSA) South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, which focuses on fungal infections with the Coccidioides species,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro. “San Antonio continues to lead in medicine development with groundbreaking research, and this grant will help boost wellness and quality of life for Americans across Texas and our nation.”
UTSA is ranked among the nation’s top five young universities, according to Times Higher Education.
Learn more about the UTSA South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Biology.
The Department of Social Work introduces new students to the Master of Social Work program.Buena Vista Street Building Assembly Room (BVB 1.338), Downtown Campus
The kickoff to Roadrunner Days, the UTSA community welcomes the thousands of students who move in to their new homes as they begin their journey at UTSA.Various residence halls, Main Campus
After a full day of moving, UTSA students and their families are invited to the party featuring food, swag, dancing and a special performance from the Spirit of San Antonio marching band.Student Union Paseo, Main Campus
This come and go session allows Roadrunners and their families to explore all the great things the UTSA Libraries offers to help students succeed. Join a group on a quest through the library for a chance at prizes and enjoy some ice cream.John Peace Library, Main Campus
Fast Action Trivia is a game where participants interact with fellow Roadrunners to test their brain skills while learning some interesting things about UTSA and have a chance to win actual cash money!Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus
This UTSA tradition is a fun, engaging opportunity for Roadrunners to learn about the facilities, recreation programs and wellness services offered at the Main and Downtown Campuses while also enjoying tons of games and activities with new and old friends.Recreation and Wellness Center Texas Room (RWC 2.214) and San Antonio Room (RWC 2.218), Main Campus
The UTSA Ambassadors are here to help students find their classes before the first day of school! Bring your class schedule to the UTSA Ambassadors table in the Student Union Ski Lodge (near Chili’s Too!), and they will help you navigate the campus to find your classes.Student Union Ski Lodge (SU 1.01.00), Main Campus
Kickback at the Union is a welcome back event for new and returning Roadrunners. Come relax and learn about the Student Union, enjoy free food, games, photo booth, and a chance to connect with each department in the Union. Arrive early for free t-shirt and stay late for a movie.Student Union Paseo and Buildings, Main Campus