Eukaryotic Pathogenesis

John Panepinto, PhD, uses Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii as a representative of fungal pathogens that cause deadly infections in humans. He studies how these few fungi have adapted to grow at mammalian body temperature.

Our research on pathogenic eukaryotes focuses on the basic biology of these complex pathogens, such as protozoan parasites and fungi, and host interactions in response to their infection.

Understanding Disease-Causing Organisms

We study Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that causes serious disease in those with compromised immune systems, including AIDS patients. Considered an ideal model system, we also use this genome-sequenced organism to study how related pathogens, like malaria-inducing Plasmodium, cause disease.

We also study multiple aspects of the biochemistry and cell biology of Trypanosoma brucei, which causes African sleeping sickness. Our research is exploring, for example, RNA editing, RNA turnover, ribosomal biogenesis, protein arginine methylation and secretion and protein trafficking in this tse-tse fly-transmitted parasite.

All of this work is relevant to the related parasite T. cruzi — which causes South American Chagas disease. Our long-term goal is to discover potential drug targets.

We research the pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans, including how it adapts to its host environment through posttranscriptional gene regulation. This microbe causes one of the most common life-threatening fungal infections in AIDS patients.

We also are exploring co-infection of this fungus with HIV in human macrophages.

Research News


James D. Bangs, PhD, Grant T. Fisher Professor and chair of microbiology and immunology, has received National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding to continue his study of human African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness.


At the 2017 Medical Student Research Forum, aspiring physician-scientists showcased 46 original research projects they conducted at the University at Buffalo, its partner health care agencies and institutions nationwide.


Ira J. Blader, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, is using new grant funding to build on prior research aiming to identify how the infection-causing parasite Toxoplasma gondii triggers seizures and other neurological complications in AIDS and cancer patients as well as fetuses.

Aspiring physician-scientists showcased 38 original research projects at the 2016 Medical Student Research Forum. The displays showed work they conducted at the University at Buffalo, its partner health care agencies and institutions nationwide.

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Department Faculty

Bangs, James
James Bangs, PhD
Grant T. Fisher Professor and Chair of Microbiology & Immunology

Blader, Ira
Ira Blader, PhD

Panepinto, John
John Panepinto, PhD
Associate Professor, Director of Recruiting and Admissions, Ph.D. Program in Biomedical Sciences (PPBS)

Read, Laurie
Laurie Read, PhD

Williams, Noreen
Noreen Williams, PhD