JOHNSON CITY (May 21, 2018) – A researcher in the East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine has been awarded more than $1.4 million in federal funding for her research related to fungal infections.
Dr. Tammy Ozment, research associate professor in the Department of Surgery, received the funding from the National Institutes of Health. The five-year, R-01 grant will allow Ozment to investigate the role of a specific protein – Dectin-1 – in individuals’ susceptibility to fungal infection.
“Dectin-1 is integral to the immune response to fungal infection,” she explained.
Ozment believes defects in Dectin-1 occur with age and critical illnesses, predisposing some patients to fungal infection. Her research is focused on better understanding the underlying reasons for that increased susceptibility.
“The mortality rate of systemic fungal infections is quite high, with 30 to 40 percent of Intensive Care Unit patients succumbing to the illness. This research could lead to an increased understanding of the function of patients’ anti-fungal defense mechanisms,” Ozment said. “My hope is this research will lead to better treatments for those predisposed to fungal infection, especially our growing elderly population.”
Ozment is also a member of ETSU’s Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Immunity.