Duke University Medical Center
Faculty and Research

Heitman Lab Members

Chiatogu Onyewu, MD, PhD
AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow
National Institutes of Health

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Division for the Application of Research Discoveries
31 Center Drive, MSC 2480
Bethesda, MD 20892

Phone: 301.496.5607
Fax: 301.402.1051
Email: onyewuc@mail.nih.gov

Chiatogu Onyewu

At Duke, I was an MD/PhD student completing graduate work in the department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology. In the Heitman lab, I was best known for my collection of hats and what other lab members have described as overly-fashionable daily attire. For my thesis work, I investigated antifungal drug targets in the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans. We found that normally fungistatic antifungal drugs such as fluconazole and terbinafine interact synergistically with the immunosuppressive drugs tacrolimus (FK506) and cyclosporine A (CsA). FK506 and CsA inhibit the serine/threonine protein phosphatase calcineurin, but do not exhibit any antifungal activity against C. albicans on their own. I also focused on elucidating the role that calcineurin signaling plays in maintaining cell viability when cell membrane integrity is compromised by antifungal drugs. Additionally, I demonstrated the clinical relevance of our proposed drug combinations by establishing and treating various animal models of C. albicans infection.


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