UA's Valley Fever Center for Excellence Annual Farness Lecture Highlights Valley Fever Awareness Week, Nov. 14-20

UA's Valley Fever Center for Excellence Annual Farness Lecture Highlights Valley Fever Awareness Week, Nov. 14-20

The Valley Fever Center for Excellence at The University of Arizona is sponsoring a variety of events, including lectures, symposia and a poster session, in recognition of Valley Fever Awareness Week, Nov. 14-20. The awareness week seeks to raise awareness within the community about Valley Fever, its importance as a public health problem, and ways to minimize its impact by improved medical practices and support of research toward vaccines and new therapies. During the week, leading researchers collaborate on recent discoveries and therapies.

Highlighting the week's activities is the Valley Fever Center for Excellence's 10th Annual Farness Lecture, sponsored by the center in conjunction with the Arizona Respiratory Center and the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health Grand Rounds, Tuesday, Nov. 15, at noon in the Arizona Cancer Center's Kiewit Auditorium. Demosthenes Pappagianis, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at University of California at Davis, will speak on "The Importance of Coccidioidomycosis to the Public Health of the Southwest."

Coccidioidomycosis, or "cocci," is an infection caused by the soil-borne fungus, Coccidioides. Known as Valley Fever, the disease is prevalent in the Southwestern deserts. John N. Galgiani, MD, director of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence (VFCE), explains that approximately 150,000 infections occur annually, with nearly two-thirds of those in Arizona. While many people who contract the disease show only mild symptoms or none at all, about one-third of those infected become ill, some seriously so.

For several decades, Dr. Pappagianis has been one of the leaders in Valley Fever research. He was studying the biology of yeasts at UC-Berkeley when the Korean War broke out and led him to his study of Coccidioides immitis, even then considered a potential biological warfare agent. He completed his PhD dissertation on "Factors Associated with Virulence of C. immitus" in the mid-1950s. After earning his MD degree from Stanford in 1962 and completing an internship at Walter Reed Army Hospital, Dr. Pappagianis returned to Berkeley in 1963 as an associate professor in the School of Public Health. There he worked with C.E. Smith, MD, a pioneer in the study of cocci. Dr. Pappagianis worked with Dr. Smith on the diagnostic and research aspects of serologic studies (blood tests to detect the presence of antibodies), ultimately testing the whole killed spherule vaccine for safeness in humans. After Dr. Smith's death in 1967, Dr. Pappagianis accepted a professorship at UC-Davis, bringing Dr. Smith's coccidioidomycosis serology laboratory with him. There he continues serodiagnostic services and research on coccidioidomycosis.

Acknowledging that Arizona is the focal point of quality clinical care and research for Valley Fever, and recognizing the need for education and outreach to reduce the seriousness of the disease, Gov. Janet Napolitano has issued a proclamation in support of Valley Fever Awareness Week.

Other events scheduled for the week include:

Valley Fever Awareness Poster Session, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2-4:30 p.m., North Ballroom, UA Student Union Memorial Center. Co-sponsored by BIO5 Institute, the poster session depicts the scope of research currently under way in Arizona.

Conference on Issues in Design and Analysis of Trials in Community-Acquired Pneumonia, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., and Thursday, Nov. 17, 8:30 a.m.-noon, UMC DuVal Auditorium, 1501 N. Campbell Ave. This conference will include a discussion of Valley Fever as a specific cause of community-acquired pneumonia, a pneumonia contracted outside of a hospital or extended-care facility. The conference is cosponsored by The Critical Path to Accelerate Therapies Institute, Drug Information Association and the Food and Drug Administration. For online registration, visit www.diahome.org.

Coccidioidomycosis for Arizona Physicians, Friday, Nov. 18, noon-1 p.m. Telemedicine research conference, available for viewing on Cox cable and videostreamed both live and archived at http://video.biocom.arizona.edu. The conference is moderated by Peter Kelly, MD, Arizona Department of Health Services, with participants Peter McKellar, MD, infectious disease practitioner, and Shauna Anderson, AzDHS, in Phoenix, and John Galgiani, MD, VFCE, and Kenneth Ryan, MD, dean, academic affairs, UA College of Medicine, in Tucson.

The Valley Fever Center for Excellence is sponsored by The University of Arizona and the Southern Arizona VA Healthcare System (SAVAHCS). The center provides information to the public, physician consultations with VFCE doctors and physician referrals for patients, and promotes research into all aspects of the disease. Valley Fever evaluation and treatment clinics are operated each week at SAVAHCS and at University Medical Center.

For more information, please contact Lisa Gelia, (520) 792-1450, ext. 5925, or visit www.vfce.arizona.edu/index.html, where the schedule of the week's activities is updated regularly.