Dr. Michael Kruppa awarded ETSU’s first Candida auris-related grant

Published 10:46 am Wednesday, March 31, 2021

JOHNSON CITY – Dr. Michael Kruppa, an East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine faculty member, has received a grant to study a global emerging fungal infection, Candida auris.
The National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, awarded a R21 grant to Kruppa for his study “Genetic Characterization of phosphomannan biosynthesis in C. auris.”  The two-year, $407,000 award is the first grant awarded to a researcher at ETSU to study Candida auris.
The incidence of Candida auris, a newly emergent species, has risen worldwide since its first recognition 10 years ago. It is primarily an infection seen in critical care wards and in some nursing facilities. It can easily be transmitted from person to person, which is why it is a major concern to health care providers. Diagnosis and treatment of these infections can be problematic due to multi-antifungal resistance. Therefore, a rapid diagnostic would be useful for identification of this species. 
“Recent work by our lab has determined that C. auris shares a number of similarities with other Candida species including the presence of a sugar compound on their surface called phosphomannan,” Kruppa said. “However, the phosphomannan sugar differs enough that we can distinguish C. auris from other Candida species. This difference is what our lab is focusing our current work on to understand how this structure is made so we can develop diagnostic tests and potentially vaccines against C. auris.”
The data generated will help to serve potential diagnostic and vaccine development in the future.
Kruppa is an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and is a member of ETSU’s Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease, and Immunity (CIIDI).
To learn more about CIIDI, visit www.etsu.edu/com/ciidi.

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