James Andrew Alspaugh, MD

Professor of Medicine
Professor in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Campus mail DUMC Box 102359, 303 Sands Building, Research Drive, Durham, NC 27710
Phone (919) 684-0045
Email address andrew.alspaugh@duke.edu

The focus of my research is to understand the ways in which microorganisms sense and respond to changes in their environment. As microbial pathogens enter the infected host, dramatic genetic and phenotypic events occur that allow these organisms to survive in this harsh environment. We study the model fungal organism Cryptococcus neoformans to define signal transduction pathways associated with systemic fungal diseases. This pathogenic fungus causes lethal infections of the central nervous system in patients with AIDS and other immunological disorders. In addition to being an important pathogen, C. neoformans displays well-characterized and inducible virulence determinants. It is an outstanding system for dissecting the signaling pathways associated with pathogenicity.

The main techniques used in the lab are those of molecular genetics. We are able to readily mutate C. neoformans genes by homologous recombination. Mutant strains with disruptions in targeted genes are then evaluated in vitro for various phenotypes including altered expression of polysaccharide capsule and melanin. The effects of gene disruption on pathogenicity are also evaluated in animal models of cryptococcal disease. Using these techniques, we have identified a novel G-alpha protein/cAMP-dependent signaling pathway associated with mating and pathogenicity.

This research is complemented by the other investigators in the Duke University Mycology Research Unit. The members of this research community are pursuing studies in fungal pathogenesis, identifying novel antifungal drug targets, and studying the ecology of several medically important fungi.

Keywords: Microbial Pathogenesis
Cryptococcus neoformans
Signal transduction
Fungal mating
G proteins

Education and Training

  • Fellow, Infectious Diseases, Duke University School of Medicine, 1995 - 1998
  • Resident, Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, 1992 - 1995
  • Intern, Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, 1991 - 1992
  • M.D., Duke University, 1991


Fowler, VG, Nacinovich, FM, Alspaugh, JA, and Corey, GR. "Prosthetic joint infection due to Histoplasma capsulatum: case report and review." Clin Infect Dis 26, no. 4 (April 1998): 1017-.


Alspaugh, JA, Perfect, JR, and Heitman, J. "Cryptococcus neoformans mating and virulence are regulated by the G-protein alpha subunit GPA1 and cAMP." Genes Dev 11, no. 23 (December 1, 1997): 3206-3217.


Lyon, GM, Alspaugh, JA, Meredith, FT, Harrell, LJ, Tapson, V, Davis, RD, and Kanj, SS. "Mycoplasma hominis pneumonia complicating bilateral lung transplantation: case report and review of the literature." Chest 112, no. 5 (November 5, 1997): 1428-1432. (Review)


Mallory, MA, Nettles, RE, Alspaug, A, and Sexton, DJ. "Community-acquired prosthetic valve endocarditis due to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus." Clin Infect Dis 24, no. 6 (June 1997): 1272-1273.


Alspaugh, JA, and Perfect, JR. "Infections due to zygomycetes and other rare fungal opportunists." Seminars in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 18, no. 3 (January 1, 1997): 265-279.

Full Text

Alspaugh, JA, Perfect, JR, and Heitman, J. "GPA1 regulates capsule formation, melanin production, mating, and virulence in Cryptococcus neoformans." Clinical Infectious Diseases 25, no. 2 (1997): 356--.


Alspaugh, CD, McDonald, L, and Alspaugh, JA. "Calciphylaxis." J Tenn Med Assoc 88, no. 10 (October 1995): 397-398.


Alspaugh, JA. "Severe, recurrent peptic ulcer disease: a case of the Zollinger-Ellison syndrome." J Tenn Med Assoc 88, no. 9 (September 1995): 353-354.


Alspaugh, JA. "Cocaine-associated chest pain: a case of aortic dissection." J Tenn Med Assoc 88, no. 7 (July 1995): 271-.


Jirjis, JN, and Alspaugh, JA. ""Cold, cold heart": a case of severe hypothermia." J Tenn Med Assoc 88, no. 5 (May 1995): 189-192.