Richard Frothingham, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Assistant Professor in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Member of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute
Campus mail 2424 Erwin Rd, Hock Plaza Room 9089, Durham, NC 27710
Phone (919) 684-5455
Email address

Dr. Frothingham is the principal investigator of a research laboratory which studies Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the cause of tuberculosis, and Mycobacterium avium, a closely related bacterium causing serious infections in AIDS patients. We are pursuing two current projects.

The first project aims to develop vaccines against M. avium and M. tuberculosis. We inject mice with candidate plasmid DNA vaccines which produce bacterial proteins in mouse muscle. We use a variety of DNA adjuvants to modify the immune response. We hope to use DNA vaccination to protect against new infections and to modify the course of existing infections. We also hope to identify correlates of vaccine-induced protective immunity.

The second project uses variations in bacterial DNA sequences to identify species and strains. Dr. Frothingham was part of a team of four Duke scientists who used DNA sequence analysis to identify the cause of Whipple's disease. He also identified used DNA sequence to identify a particular group of M. avium strains which cause disseminated infections in AIDS patients. We recently developed a new tuberculosis typing method using variable numbers of tandem DNA repeats. We are applying this new typing method in national and international collaborations.

Dr. Frothingham does not currently conduct clinical trials.

Special areas of expertise include tuberculosis, mycobacteria, strain differentiation, DNA vaccination, and pyrazinamide.

Key words: tuberculosis, mycobacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium avium, DNA vaccines, tandem repeat DNA, pyrazinamide, mouse

Education and Training

  • Medicine and Pediatrics Resident, Medicine, University of Rochester, 1982 - 1986
  • M.D., Duke University, 1981


Styer, Katie L., Eva M. Click, Gregory W. Hopkins, Richard Frothingham, and Alejandro Aballay. “Study of the role of CCR5 in a mouse model of intranasal challenge with Yersinia pestis..” Microbes Infect 9, no. 9 (July 2007): 1135–38.

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Yu, Jae-Sung, James W. Peacock, William R. Jacobs, Richard Frothingham, Norman L. Letvin, Hua-Xin Liao, and Barton F. Haynes. “Recombinant Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guerin elicits human immunodeficiency virus type 1 envelope-specific T lymphocytes at mucosal sites..” Clin Vaccine Immunol 14, no. 7 (July 2007): 886–93.

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Davidson, E Megan, Richard Frothingham, and Robert Cook-Deegan. “Science and security. Practical experiences in dual-use review..” Science 316, no. 5830 (June 8, 2007): 1432–33.

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Yu, Jae-Sung, James W. Peacock, Stacie Vanleeuwen, Tsungda Hsu, William R. Jacobs, Mark J. Cayabyab, Norman L. Letvin, et al. “Generation of mucosal anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 T-cell responses by recombinant Mycobacterium smegmatis..” Clin Vaccine Immunol 13, no. 11 (November 2006): 1204–11.

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Frothingham, Richard. “Glucose homeostasis abnormalities associated with use of gatifloxacin..” Clin Infect Dis 41, no. 9 (November 1, 2005): 1269–76.

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Styer, Katie L., Gregory W. Hopkins, Sara Schesser Bartra, Gregory V. Plano, Richard Frothingham, and Alejandro Aballay. “Yersinia pestis kills Caenorhabditis elegans by a biofilm-independent process that involves novel virulence factors..” Embo Rep 6, no. 10 (October 2005): 992–97.

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Frothingham, R. “Chlamydia pneumoniae and acute coronary syndrome.” New England Journal of Medicine 353, no. 5 (August 4, 2005): 526–526.