Leonel Mendoza, Ph.D.
Phone: (517) 432-1234
Fax: (517) 432-2006
Dr. Mendoza teaches and oversees the infectious microbiology component of the undergraduate program.
Research Interests: Infections caused by fungi and fungal-like organisms (Lagenidium sp, Rhinosporidium), in individuals suffering debilitating diseases or under immunosuppressive therapy, have dramatically increased. Customary drugs, used to treat fungal infections, have little or no effect against newly emerging opportunistic fungi and fungal-like organisms. Furthermore, the available antifungal drugs are notorious for their toxicity. Therefore, new strategies need to be developed to improve the ways we prevent, treat, and diagnose infections caused by the pathogenic fungi, the newly emerging opportunistic fungi, and the fungal-like organisms. Among the emerging pathogens is Pythium insidiosum and Lagenidium spp.
In the last ten years we investigated the epidemiology, pathogenesis, and the life cycle of fungi-like organisms. We developed a serologic test for diagnosing infections caused by this organism, and an immunotherapeutic vaccine for its treatment. We are currently dissecting the components of P. insidiosum immunotherapy to identify and characterize the genes that encode proteins with immunotherapeutic features for the production of genetically engineered vaccines. Another research goal is the development of new techniques, using molecular approaches, to diagnose and monitor the infections caused by the traditional pathogenic fungi. In addition, we are also currently studying the link of Rhinosporidium seeberi, historically studied as a fungus, to other organisms.