Jill Blankenship, PhD
- Department Chair
- Associate Professor
The research in my lab is focused on the pathogenic fungus Candida albicans. C. albicans and related Candida species are the fourth-leading cause of infection in US hospitals.
The mortality rate of patients with systemic Candida infections is as high as 40% in certain patient populations, and the susceptible patient population continues to grow. Our work centers on a family of proteins, called septins, which impact both the pathogenesis of the organism as well as its antifungal drug sensitivity.
The septins have well-defined roles in cell division, but our work has uncovered novel roles for these proteins in cell wall integrity, a process targeted by the antifungal drug caspofungin.
We are using genetic and biochemical approaches to define the role of septins in cell wall integrity as well as their contribution to filamentation, a process required for pathogenesis in this fungus.