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


Frothingham, R., S. D. Pinkerton, D. R. Holtgrave, and H. Jill Pinkerton. “Cost-effectiveness of chemoprophylaxis after occupational exposure to HIV [4] (multiple letters).” Archives of Internal Medicine 158, no. 13 (July 15, 1998): 1470–71.

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Frothingham, R., and W. A. Meeker-O’Connell. “Genetic diversity in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex based on variable numbers of tandem DNA repeats..” Microbiology 144 ( Pt 5) (May 1998): 1189–96.

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Talbot, Elizabeth A., and Richard Frothingham. “Disseminated Bacille Calmette‐Guérin Disease After Vaccination.” Clinical Infectious Diseases 26, no. 3 (March 1998): 774–75.

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Frothingham, R. “Medical mystery - The answer revealed - Reply.” New England Journal of Medicine 338, no. 4 (January 22, 1998): 267–267.


Talbot, E. A., M. D. Perkins, S. F. Silva, and R. Frothingham. “Disseminated bacille Calmette-Guérin disease after vaccination: case report and review..” Clin Infect Dis 24, no. 6 (June 1997): 1139–46.

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Swanson, D. S., V. Kapur, K. Stockbauer, X. Pan, R. Frothingham, and J. M. Musser. “Subspecific differentiation of Mycobacterium avium complex strains by automated sequencing of a region of the gene (hsp65) encoding a 65-kilodalton heat shock protein..” Int J Syst Bacteriol 47, no. 2 (April 1997): 414–19.

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