Welcome to our laboratory

Aspergillus fumigatus in vitro hypoxia culture

Aspergillus fumigatus infection in the lung

Aspergillus fumigatus hyphae in hypoxia

Resistance test to antifungal drugs

Welcome to the Cramer Laboratory in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire. Our laboratory is focused on elucidating the pathogenesis mechanisms of the human fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. A. fumigatus is a filamentous fungus (mold) and causes invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA) in immunocompromised patients and hypersensitivity type diseases such as Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA) in immunocompetent individuals. Current treatment options for aspergillosis in all its manifestations are limited in part due to the genetic similarity between humans and fungi. A better understanding of how A. fumigatus is able to colonize, infect, and cause disease is expected to lead to better diagnostics and improved therapies.

Our laboratory is focusing on two attributes of the fungus that we hypothesize allow it to cause invasive and chronic disease: adaptation to low oxygen conditions (hypoxia) found in vivo during infection and production of a unique carbohydrate (trehalose) that may protect the fungus from environmental stresses found in vivo. A growing part of the laboratory is exploring how hypoxia alters the innate immune response to A. fumigatus. We are particularly interested in how changes in fungal metabolism induced by the in vivo microenvironments encountered in the lung affect the innate immune response. We are hopeful that our studies will lead to a fuller mechanistic understanding of aspergillosis that can be used to improve treatment outcomes. Along these lines, we are exploring whether manipulation of oxygen levels at the site of infection can alter the course and outcome of the disease.