(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.
Through the month of February, the UTSA community is invited to join student organizations, colleges and departments at events that commemorate the African American people, places and events that have paved the way for racial equality.Various locations
The UTSA Department of English presents this year's Brackenridge Distinguished Visiting Lecturer, Lawrence Venuti. Venuti is a professor of English at Temple University.Business Building University Room (BB 2.06.04), Main Campus
Diploma Dash is a fast, certified 5k course for runners and a scenic route around Main Campus for walkers, strollers and dogs! There are individual and team prizes. Benefits UTSA students through the UTSA Alumni Association scholarship program.UTSA Main Campus
Enjoy music, food and socializing during this fundraising event benefiting the San Antonio Symphony League for the Youth Concert Series and the ITC for its ongoing educational mission.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
UTSA Libraries will host Robert Rico, M.P.A., Department of Criminal Justice, for his presentation "Restorative Justice: A Relational Approach to Civic Discourse." Pizza will be provided to students while supplies last.Buena Vista Street Building (BVB 2.309), Downtown Campus
Spend an evening stirring your curiosity during these monthly talks featuring some of UTSA’s most renowned faculty, and learn how the latest research in their fields applies to our daily lives. This month's speaker is Francine Romero, UTSA associate professor and associate dean of the College of Public Policy.The Historic Guadalupe Theatre, 1301 Guadalupe St., San Antonio
Meet with 60+ representatives from Texas and out-of-state schools to get information on becoming a competitive health professions applicant and information about the application and transition process.Student Union Denman Ballroom (SU 2.01.28), Main Campus
UTSA master's of fine arts student Lauren Riojas-Fitzpatrick showcases her thesis through an art exhibit.Terminal 136, 136 Blue Star, San Antonio
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