Episode Summary

The devastation of the immune system that occurs during AIDS renders patients highly susceptible to a number of infections that a functioning immune system can easily control.  

One of the most common infections in AIDS patients is Cryptococcosis, caused by a fungus. Cryptococcus neoformans can infect immunocompromised individuals through the lungs and cause a potentially fatal meningitis. 

Dr. Paul de Figueiredo is an associate professor at Texas A&M University. His research focuses on the interaction of host cells with microbial pathogens, including Cryptococcus neoformans.

Dr. de Figueiredo talks about why AIDS patients are susceptible to infections by this fungus, how working with fruit flies can help in the fight against Cryptococcus, why the fungus is found in pigeon droppings, and his path from religious scholar to scientist.

The microCase for listeners to solve is about Cal Naughton Jr, who comes down with a mysterious illness while on a Royal Beluga Caribbean cruise with his family.


  • Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Paul de Figueiredo, Ph.D. (Texas A&M University)
  • Janakiram Seshu, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Jesus Romo, Ph.D. (UTSA)

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