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Scientists took different routes to find valley fever vaccine

Photo by Brian Baer/Special To The Sacramento Bee

Five scientists were chosen by a committee affiliated with California State University, Bakersfield, in 1997 to pursue vaccine research.

Dr. John Galgiani, 66, professor at the University of Arizona and director of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence

  • Developed a vaccine that has been tested in mice and monkeys.
  • Currently working to improve the vaccine to make it cheaper to make.
  • Also working on Nikkomycin Z, a possible valley fever cure.

Dr. Demosthenes Pappagianis, 84, professor and director of the Coccidioidomycosis Serology Laboratoryat the University of California, Davis

  • Began studying the coccidioidesfungus in the early 1950s
  • Currently conducting vaccine tests on mice.
  • Trying to find the right formulation to generate a strong immune response.
  • Also studying how many doses of the vaccine have to be given, and precisely when, in order to get the maximum effect.

Dr. Garry Cole, 71, professor and chair in medical mycologyat the University of Texas at San Antonio

  • Generated a live vaccine that has been tested in mice.
  • Vaccine has been attenuated – meaning weakened – to make it safe for immunizations.
  • Working to modify vaccine to confirm that – once injected – it would not become infectious.
  • Hoping to test the vaccine in primates and, eventually, humans.
  • Developing a second vaccine with a different formulation.

Dr. Rebecca Cox, 62, scientist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

  • Studied the coccidioidesfungus for 30 years.
  • Focused on the role of the human immune system in combating the fungus once it was inhaled.
  • Died July 14, 2006.

Dr. Theo Kirkland, 62, professor of pathology and medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

  • Tested a vaccine in mice but wasn’t able to pursue it further.
  • Stopped doing research on valley fever after funding for his project ran out.
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