We are pleased to announce that Minh-Hong Nguyen, MD, and Cornelius (Neil) J. Clancy, MD, have been awarded funding in the amount of $593,184 for a two-year grant by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), entitled “Surveillance of pathogenic fungi in hospital environments and patients.” This proposal was submitted in response to the competitive funding opportunity entitled CDC Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) Applied Research to Address Emerging Public Health Priorities under funding opportunity 75D301-22-R-72097.

Reports of healthcare-associated invasive fungal infections (HA-IFIs) have increased markedly. Aspergillus spp. are the most common pathogenic molds in hospitalized patients. Molds of the order Mucorales cause IFIs that carry particularly high rates of mortality and morbidity. In recent years, other fungi, often with diminished susceptibility to antifungal drugs, such as Candida auris, have emerged. HA-IFIs can occur sporadically or as nosocomial outbreaks. Pathogenic fungi are found widely in the environment. Fungi contaminating environments within hospitals, including air and air handling systems, healthcare linens, supplies, medications and various surfaces, http://profiles.dom.pitt.edu/images/facultyPhotos/clancy_c5654.jpgmay serve as sources of IFI outbreaks. The role of fungi within hospital environments in putatively sporadic infections is unclear.

Drs. Nguyen and Clancy will address knowledge gaps that currently limit environmental sampling and understanding of prevalence and distribution of pathogenic fungi in hospitals, including the lack of: 1) standardized and optimal methods for sample collection, and for culture-based and culture-independent detection and quantitation of fungi; 2) analytic tools and pipelines for fungal genomic and metagenomic sequencing (MGS) data; and, 3) links between prevalence and distribution of environmental fungi and IFIs or fungal transmission among hospitalized patients. The objectives of this multi-center project are to conduct systematic environmental surveillance for pathogenic fungi within diverse hospitals in a healthcare system (using a culture-based and metagenomic approach), and to correlate quantitative data on environmental fungi with incidence of IFIs and pathogen transmission. Additionally, they will develop field-deployable MGS technology and analytics that are suitable for use on-site at individual hospitals, in a model patterned after that of the CDC Mobile Influenza Analytics pipeline.

Congratulations Hong and Neil!