Perfect awarded 5-year program project grant from NIAID

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
"Aspergillus fumigatus 01". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

John Perfect, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, received notification today from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of a program project award (P01) for his proposal entitled Transdisciplinary Program to Identify Novel Antifungal Targets and Inhibitors.

This award, effective 6/25/15, will last five years and, with its cores, total $9,277,000.

The grant encompasses contributions from faculty in the departments of Medicine, Biochemistry, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Pediatrics and Radiology, as well as from other institutions, said Dr. Perfect. 

"This was a three-year year venture of blood, sweat and tears," said Perfect. "Now we're eager to make progress toward drug development that will help our patients in the future."

The purpose of this Program Project is to understand fungal biology, in particular, three signaling pathways that fungi require to grow within the human body.

Mary Klotman, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine, offered Perfect her congratulations.

"Science today requires collaboration, and John has put together a team which will make Duke proud," said Dr. Klotman.

"Now comes the hard and most enjoyable part—the science and its translational focus," said Perfect.

Fungal infections are deadly for thousands of people each year, resulting in significant personal and health care burden. In addition, these infections are increasing in prevalence and becoming resistant to existing treatments. The research program initially will focuse on the three major pathogenic fungi: Candida albicansAspergillus fumigatus (pictured above), and Cryptococcus neoformans.  

Other faculty members participating in this research program are Andrew Alspaugh (Infectious Diseases), Lorena Beese (Biochemistry), Richard Brennan (Biochemistry), Mark Distefano (University of Minnesota), Joseph Heitman (MGM), Richard Lee (St Jude Children’s Research Hospital), Wiley Schell (ID), Maria Anne Schumacher (Biochemistry), Leonard Spicer (Radiology), and William Steinbach (Pediatrics).