Felipe H. Santiago-Tirado Assistant Professor

The Cell Biology of Cryptococcal Disease
Felipe H. Santiago-Tirado

Research Interests:

Fungal infections are an underappreciated global public health crisis, with over 300 million people globally afflicted with serious fungal infections, and 25 million of them at risk of dying or suffering life-long sequelae (http://www.gaffi.org/why/fungal-disease-frequency/). These infections are among the most difficult to treat diseases, not only due to a lack of effective antifungals, but also due to an incomplete understanding of their pathogenesis, resulting in 1.6 million deaths yearly. The most common culprit is the ubiquitous environmental fungus Cryptococcus neoformans, which was responsible for 200,000 deaths in 2016. This fungus is inhaled into the lung environment, where it is quickly taken up by host phagocytes. In these phagocytes, the cryptococcal cells are able to not only survive, but proliferate and disseminate, eventually causing a deadly meningoencephalitis after crossing the blood-brain barrier. My primary research goals are to understand how C. neoformans can survive inside host phagocytes and cross cellular barriers, which are the main drivers of disease progression. I am also interested in the unique cell biology of this fungus, such as its ability to secrete a polysaccharide capsule, offering the potential of novel therapeutic targets, as well as uncover basic biology applicable to other pathogens.

 

Biography:

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN  2018 – Present
  • Staff Research Scientist, Molecular Microbiology Department, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO  2017 – 2018
  • Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) Advanced Course, Molecular Mycology: Current Approaches to Fungal Pathogenesis, MBL, Woods Hole, MA  2013
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, Molecular Microbiology Department, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 2012 – 2017
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 2011 – 2012
  • PhD, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY  2011

 

Selected Publications: