John N Galgiani
Director, Valley Fever Center for Excellence
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Professor, Medicine
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 626-4968
Work Summary
Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis) occurs more in Arizona than anywhere else. My research and others at the Valley Fever Center for Excellence involve understanding how disease is caused by infection, how the immune system stops or prevents illness, and how we can better diagnose, treat, or prevent this public health problem.
Research Interest
Dr. Galgiani has focused his career on Arizona’s special problems with Valley Fever. His work has included studies of the impact of Valley Fever on the general population and on special groups such as organ transplant recipients and patients with AIDS. For 19 years, as part of the NIH-sponsored Mycoses Study Group, Dr. Galgiani has been the project director of a coccidioidomycosis clinical trials group. Through collaboration, this group has evaluated new therapies for Valley Fever more rapidly and with greater clarity than might otherwise have been possible by investigators working in isolation. Dr. Galgiani has also been involved with efforts to prevent Valley Fever through vaccination. His group discovered and patented a recombinant antigen which is the basis for a vaccine candidate suitable for further development and clinical trials. Most recently, he has become the project leader for developing a new drug, nikkomycin Z, for treating Valley Fever. With recent NIH and FDA grant awards, clinical trials with this drug were resumed in 2007. Dr. Galgiani is also Chief Medical Officer of Valley Fever Solutions, Inc, a start-up company founded to assist in the drug’s development. In 1996, the Arizona Board of Regents accepted Dr. Galgiani’s proposal to establish the Valley Fever Center for Excellence for the Arizona universities. Based at the University of Arizona, the Center is pledged to spread information about Valley Fever, help patients with the severest complications of this disease, and to encourage research into the biology and diseases of its etiologic agent. The Center maintains a website (www.VFCE.Arizona.edu) and answers inquiries from health care professionals located in Arizona, other parts of the United States, and even from other countries. The Valley Fever Corridor Project, begun in 2009, intends to facilitate communication among Arizona clinicians to also improve patient care. In 2011, The Valley Fever Center in Phoenix was announced as a partnership between St. Joseph’s Hospital and the UA College of Medicine in Phoenix. It began operation in June, 2012. Research is increasing into the environmental biology of the fungus within its desert soil habitat as well as how the fungus caused disease and the body’s immunity controls it. Since Arizona has the only medical schools situated directly within the endemic region for Valley Fever, it is quite appropriate that Arizona lead in solving this problem. As Director of the Center, Dr. Galgiani is working for its full implementation as a means of ensuring an institutional commitment to accomplish this goal. Keywords: Coccidioidomycosis, Valley Fever, antifungal drugs, vaccines, serologic tests,

Publications

PONT, A., GRAYBILL JR, ., CRAVEN, P. C., GALGIANI, J. N., DISMUKES, W. E., REITZ, R. E., & STEVENS, D. A. (1984). HIGH-DOSE KETOCONAZOLE THERAPY AND ADRENAL AND TESTICULAR FUNCTION IN HUMANS. ARCHIVES OF INTERNAL MEDICINE, 144(11), 2150-2153.
Orsborn, K. I., Shubitz, L. F., Peng, T., Kellner, E. M., Orbach, M. J., Haynes, P. A., & Galgiani, J. N. (2006). Protein expression profiling of Coccidioides posadasii by two-dimensional differential in-gel electrophoresis and evaluation of a newly recognized peroxisomal matrix protein as a recombinant vaccine candidate. Infection and immunity, 74(3), 1865-72.

Coccidioides posadasii and Coccidioides immitis are dimorphic, soil-dwelling pathogenic ascomycetes endemic to the southwestern United States. Infection can result from inhalation of a very few arthroconidia, but following natural infection, long-lived immunity is the norm. Previous work in the field has shown that spherule-derived vaccines afford more protection than those from mycelia. We have used two-dimensional differential in-gel electrophoresis coupled with nano-high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry to directly assess both absolute abundance and differential expression of proteins in the spherule and the mycelial phases of C. posadasii with the intent to identify potential vaccine candidates. Peptides derived from 40 protein spots were analyzed and a probable identity was assigned to each. One spherule-abundant protein, identified as Pmp1, showed homology to allergens from Aspergillus fumigatus and other fungi, all of which exhibit similarity to yeast thiol peroxidases. Recombinant Pmp1 was reactive with serum from individuals with both acute and protracted disease, and evoked protection in two murine models of infection with C. posadasii. These results demonstrate the utility of proteomic analysis as a point of discovery for protective antigens for possible inclusion in a vaccine candidate to prevent coccidioidomycosis.

Stern, N. G., & Galgiani, J. N. (2010). Coccidioidomycosis among scholarship athletes and other college students, Arizona, USA. Emerging infectious diseases, 16(2), 321-3.

To compare coccidioidomycosis case rates among groups of young adults in a disease-endemic region, we reviewed medical charts for serologic testing and coding. Case rates were higher for scholarship athletes than for other students and paralleled 5x more serologic testing. Our findings underscore the need to routinely test patients for coccidioidomycosis.

Bennett, J. E., Powers, J., de Pauw, B., Dismukes, W., Galgiani, J., Glauser, M., Herbrecht, R., Kauffman, C., Lee, J., Pappas, P., Rex, J., Verweij, P., Viscoli, C., & Walsh, T. (2003). Forum report: issues in the design of trials of drugs for the treatment of invasive aspergillosis. Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, 36(Suppl 3), S113-6.

A recent trial of drugs for invasive aspergillosis was used as a background for discussing critical features in the design of antifungal trials. The study under discussion allowed stopping either drug without classifying the patient as having treatment failure, so the trial should be understood as a comparison of 2 treatment strategies, not just 2 drugs. Although the study was a noninferiority trial, the outcome permitted a claim of superiority. Use of the category of "probable" in addition to "proven" aspergillosis permitted inclusion of patients for whom the diagnosis was less certain but who were still early enough in the disease progression to respond to therapy. Different opinions still exist about some of the criteria for the diagnosis of "probable" aspergillosis. A blinded data review committee was helpful in evaluating efficacy in this unblinded trial but had limited value in assessing toxicity. An understanding of these features of design of antifungal drug trials is important in applying the results to clinical practice.

DENNING, D. W., LEE, J. Y., HOSTETLER, J. S., PAPPAS, P., KAUFFMAN, C. A., DEWSNUP, D. H., GALGIANI, J. N., GRAYBILL JR, ., SUGAR, A. M., CATANZARO, A., GALLIS, H., PERFECT JR, ., DOCKERY, B., DISMUKES, W. E., & STEVENS, D. A. (1994). NIAID MYCOSES STUDY-GROUP MULTICENTER TRIAL OF ORAL ITRACONAZOLE THERAPY FOR INVASIVE ASPERGILLOSIS. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, 97(2), 135-144.