Theodore C White

University of Missouri - Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, United States

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Publications (62)275.61 Total impact

  • Martin Zavrel · Theodore C White
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    ABSTRACT: The increased numbers of patients with compromised immune systems in the last three decades have increased the chances of life-threatening fungal infections. Numerous antifungal drugs have been developed in the last 20 years to treat these infections. The largest group, the azoles, inhibits the synthesis of fungal sterols. The use of these fungistatic azoles has subsequently led to the emergence of acquired azole resistance. The most common mechanisms that result in azole resistance include the overexpression or mutation of the azole target enzyme, and overexpression of drug transporters that are responsible for azole efflux from cells. Additional, less-frequent mechanisms have also been identified. Understanding azole resistance mechanisms is crucial for current antifungal treatment and for the future development of new treatment strategies.
    Future Microbiology 08/2015; DOI:10.2217/FMB.15.47 · 3.82 Impact Factor
  • Brooke D Esquivel · Adam R Smith · Martin Zavrel · Theodore C White
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    ABSTRACT: The fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus causes serious illness and often death when it invades tissues, especially in immunocompromised individuals. The azole class of drugs is the most commonly prescribed treatment for many fungal infections and acts on the ergosterol biosynthesis pathway. One common mechanism of acquired azole drug resistance in fungi is prevention of drug accumulation to toxic levels in the cell. While drug efflux is a well-known resistance strategy, reduced azole import would be another strategy to maintain low intracellular azole levels. Recently, azole uptake in Candida albicans and other yeasts was analyzed using (3)H-fluconazole. Defective drug import was suggested to be a potential mechanism of drug resistance in several pathogenic fungi including C. neoformans, C. krusei and S. cerevisiae. We have adapted and developed an assay to measure azole accumulation in A. fumigatus using radioactively labeled azole drugs, based on previous work done with C. albicans. We used this assay to study differences in azole uptake in A. fumigatus under a variety of drug treatment conditions, with different morphologies, and with a select mutant strain with deficiencies in the sterol uptake and biosynthesis pathway. We conclude that azole drugs are specifically selected and imported into the fungal cell by a pH and ATP-independent facilitated diffusion mechanism, not by passive diffusion. This method of drug transport is likely to be conserved across most fungal species. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 03/2015; 59(6). DOI:10.1128/AAC.05003-14 · 4.45 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dermatophytes cause superficial and cutaneous fungal infections in immunocompetent hosts and invasive disease in immunocompromised hosts. However, the host mechanisms that regulate innate immune responses against these fungi are largely unknown. Here, we utilized commercially available epidermal tissues and primary keratinocytes to assess (i) damage induction by anthropophilic, geophilic and zoophilic dermatophyte strains, and (ii) the keratinocyte signaling pathways, transcription factors and proinflammatory responses induced by a representative dermatophyte, Trichophyton equinum. Initially, five dermatophyte species were tested for their ability to invade, cause tissue damage and induce cytokines, with Microsporum gypseum inducing the greatest level of damage and cytokine release. Using T. equinum as a representative dermatophyte, we found that the MAPK pathways were predominantly affected, with increased levels of phospho-p38 and phospho-JNK but decreased levels of phospho-ERK1/2. Notably, the NF-κB and PI3K pathways were largely unaffected. T. equinum also significantly increased expression of the AP-1 associated transcription factor, c-Fos, and the MAPK regulatory phosphatase, MKP1. Importantly, the ability of T. equinum to invade, cause tissue damage, activate signaling and transcription factors, and induce pro-inflammatory responses correlated with germination, indicating that germination may be important for dermatophyte virulence and host immune activation. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
    Infection and Immunity 02/2015; 83(4). DOI:10.1128/IAI.02776-14 · 4.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Candida albicans is both a member of the healthy human microbiome and a major pathogen in immunocompromised individuals. Infections are typically treated with azole inhibitors of ergosterol biosynthesis often leading to drug resistance. Studies in clinical isolates have implicated multiple mechanisms in resistance, but have focused on large-scale aberrations or candidate genes, and do not comprehensively chart the genetic basis of adaptation. Here, we leveraged next-generation sequencing to analyze 43 isolates from 11 oral candidiasis patients. We detected newly selected mutations, including single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), copy-number variations and loss-of-heterozygosity (LOH) events. LOH events were commonly associated with acquired resistance, and SNPs in 240 genes may be related to host adaptation. Conversely, most aneuploidies were transient and did not correlate with drug resistance. Our analysis also shows that isolates also varied in adherence, filamentation, and virulence. Our work reveals new molecular mechanisms underlying the evolution of drug resistance and host adaptation.
    eLife Sciences 02/2015; 4. DOI:10.7554/eLife.00662 · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Several human skin diseases and disorders are associated with two groups of fungi, the dermatophytes and Malassezia. Although these skin-related problems are not generally life threatening, they are among the most common diseases and disorders of mankind. These fungi are phylogenetically divergent, with the dermatophytes within the Ascomycota and Malassezia within Basidiomycota. Genome analysis indicates that the adaptations to the skin environment are different in these two groups of fungi. Malassezia are dependent on host lipids and secrete lipases and phospholipases that likely release host fatty acids. The dermatophytes encode multiple enzymes with potential roles in modulating host interactions: polyketide synthases, nonribosomal peptide synthetases, LysM, proteases, kinases, and pseudokinases. These two fungal groups have maximized their interactions with the host using two very different mechanisms.
    Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine 08/2014; 4(8). DOI:10.1101/cshperspect.a019802 · 7.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In most eukaryotes, including the majority of fungi, expression of sterol biosynthesis genes is regulated by Sterol-Regulatory Element Binding Proteins (SREBPs), which are basic helix-loop-helix transcription activators. However, in yeasts such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida albicans sterol synthesis is instead regulated by Upc2, an unrelated transcription factor with a Gal4-type zinc finger. The SREBPs in S. cerevisiae (Hms1) and C. albicans (Cph2) have lost a domain, are not major regulators of sterol synthesis, and instead regulate filamentous growth. We report here that rewiring of the sterol regulon, with Upc2 taking over from SREBP, likely occurred in the common ancestor of all Saccharomycotina. Yarrowia lipolytica, a deep-branching species, is the only genome known to contain intact and full-length orthologs of both SREBP (Sre1) and Upc2. Deleting YlUPC2, but not YlSRE1, confers susceptibility to azole drugs. Sterol levels are significantly reduced in the YlUPC2 deletion. RNA-seq analysis shows that hypoxic regulation of sterol synthesis genes in Y. lipolytica is predominantly mediated by Upc2. However, YlSre1 still retains a role in hypoxic regulation; growth of Y. lipolytica in hypoxic conditions is reduced in a Ylupc2 deletion and is abolished in a Ylsre1/Ylupc2 double deletion, and YlSre1 regulates sterol gene expression during hypoxia adaptation. We show that YlSRE1, and to a lesser extent YlUPC2, are required for switching from yeast to filamentous growth in hypoxia. Sre1 appears to have an ancestral role in the regulation of filamentation, which became decoupled from its role in sterol gene regulation by the arrival of Upc2 in the Saccharomycotina.
    PLoS Genetics 01/2014; 10(1):e1004076. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004076 · 8.17 Impact Factor
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    Rebecca Rashid Achterman · Theodore C White
    Current biology: CB 07/2013; 23(13):R551-R552. DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2013.03.026 · 9.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dermatophytes belonging to the Trichophyton and Arthroderma genera cause skin infections in humans and animals. From genome sequencing data, we mined a conserved gene cluster among dermatophytes that are homologous to one that produces an immunosuppressive polyketide in Aspergillus fumigatus. Using a recombination-based cloning strategy in yeast, we constructed fungal heterologous expression vectors that encode the cryptic clusters. When integrated into the model Aspergillus nidulans host, a structurally related compound neosartoricin B was formed, suggesting a possible role of this compound in the pathogenesis of these strains.
    ACS Synthetic Biology 06/2013; 2(11). DOI:10.1021/sb400048b · 3.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pdr16p belongs to the family of phosphatidylinositol transfer proteins in yeast. The absence of Pdr16p results in enhanced susceptibility to azole antifungals in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In the major fungal human pathogen Candida albicans, CaPDR16 is a contributing factor to clinical azole resistance. The current study is aimed at better understanding the function of Pdr16p, especially in relation to azole resistance in S. cerevisiae. We show that deletion of the PDR16 gene increased susceptibility of S. cerevisiae to azole antifungals that are used in clinical medicine and agriculture. Significant differences in the inhibition of the sterol biosynthetic pathway were observed between the pdr16Δ strain and its corresponding wild type (wt) strain when yeast cells were challenged by sub-inhibitory concentrations of the azoles miconazole or fluconazole. The increased susceptibility to azoles, and enhanced changes in sterol biosynthesis upon exposure to azoles of the pdr16Δ strain compared to wt strain is not the result of increased intracellular concentration of azoles in the pdr16Δ cells. We also show that overexpression of PDR17 complements the azole susceptible phenotype of the pdr16Δ strain and corrected the enhanced sterol alterations in the pdr16Δ cells in the presence of azoles. Pdr17p was found previously to be an essential part of a complex required for intermembrane transport of phosphatidylserine at regions of membrane apposition. Based on these observations we propose a hypothesis that Pdr16p assists in shuttling sterols or their intermediates between membranes or alternatively, between sterol biosynthetic enzymes or complexes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Yeast 06/2013; 30(6). DOI:10.1002/yea.2956 · 1.74 Impact Factor
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    Martin Zavrel · Sam J Hoot · Theodore C White
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    ABSTRACT: Sterol import has been characterized under various conditions in three distinct fungal species, the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae and two human fungal pathogens Candida glabrata and Candida albicans, employing cholesterol, the sterol of higher eukaryotes, as well as its fungal equivalent, ergosterol. Import was confirmed by the detection of esterified cholesterol within the cells. Comparing the three fungal species, we observe sterol import under three different conditions. First, as previously well characterized, we observe sterol import under low oxygen levels in S. cerevisiae and C. glabrata, which is dependent on the transcription factor Upc2 and/or its orthologs or paralogs. Second, we observe sterol import under aerobic conditions exclusively in the two pathogenic fungi C. glabrata and C. albicans. Uptake emerges during post-exponential growth phases, is independent of the characterized Upc2-pathway and is slower when compared to the anaerobic uptake in S. cerevisiae and C. glabrata. Third, we observe under normoxic conditions in C. glabrata that Upc2-dependent sterol import can be induced in the presence of fetal bovine serum together with fluconazole. In summary, C. glabrata imports sterols both in aerobic and anaerobic conditions and the limited aerobic uptake can be further stimulated by the presence of serum together with fluconazole. S. cerevisiae imports sterols only in anaerobic conditions, demonstrating aerobic sterol exclusion. Finally, C. albicans imports sterols exclusively aerobically in post-exponential growth phases, independent of Upc2. For the first time, we provide direct evidence of sterol import into the human fungal pathogen C. albicans, which until now was believed to be incapable of active sterol import.
    Eukaryotic Cell 03/2013; 12. DOI:10.1128/EC.00345-12 · 3.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although fungal infections contribute substantially to human morbidity and mortality, the impact of these diseases on human health is not widely appreciated. Moreover, despite the urgent need for efficient diagnostic tests and safe and effective new drugs and vaccines, research into the pathophysiology of human fungal infections lags behind that of diseases caused by other pathogens. In this Review, we highlight the importance of fungi as human pathogens and discuss the challenges we face in combating the devastating invasive infections caused by these microorganisms, in particular in immunocompromised individuals.
    Science translational medicine 12/2012; 4(165):165rv13. DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.3004404 · 14.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The major cause of athlete’s foot is Trichophyton rubrum, a dermatophyte or fungal pathogen of human skin. To facilitate molecular analyses of the dermatophytes, we sequenced T. rubrum and four related species, Trichophyton tonsurans, Trichophyton equinum, Microsporum canis, and Microsporum gypseum. These species differ in host range, mating, and disease progression. The dermatophyte genomes are highly colinear yet contain gene family expansions not found in other human-associated fungi. Dermatophyte genomes are enriched for gene families containing the LysM domain, which binds chitin and potentially related carbohydrates. These LysM domains differ in sequence from those in other species in regions of the peptide that could affect substrate binding. The dermatophytes also encode novel sets of fungus-specific kinases with unknown specificity, including nonfunctional pseudokinases, which may inhibit phosphorylation by competing for kinase sites within substrates, acting as allosteric effectors, or acting as scaffolds for signaling. The dermatophytes are also enriched for a large number of enzymes that synthesize secondary metabolites, including dermatophyte-specific genes that could synthesize novel compounds. Finally, dermatophytes are enriched in several classes of proteases that are necessary for fungal growth and nutrient acquisition on keratinized tissues. Despite differences in mating ability, genes involved in mating and meiosis are conserved across species, suggesting the possibility of cryptic mating in species where it has not been previously detected. These genome analyses identify gene families that are important to our understanding of how dermatophytes cause chronic infections, how they interact with epithelial cells, and how they respond to the host immune response.
    mBio 08/2012; 3(5). DOI:10.1128/mBio.00259-12 · 6.88 Impact Factor
  • Article: Open Access
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    ABSTRACT: Comparative and functional genomics provide insights into the pathogenicity of dermatophytic fungi
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    Rebecca Rashid Achterman · Theodore C White
    PLoS Pathogens 03/2012; 8(3):e1002564. DOI:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002564 · 8.06 Impact Factor
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    Rebecca Rashid Achterman · Theodore C White
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    ABSTRACT: Dermatophytes are prevalent causes of cutaneous mycoses and, unlike many other fungal pathogens, are able to cause disease in immunocompetent individuals. They infect keratinized tissue such as skin, hair, and nails, resulting in tinea infections, including ringworm. Little is known about the molecular mechanisms that underlie the ability of these organisms to establish and maintain infection. The recent availability of genome sequence information and improved genetic manipulation have enabled researchers to begin to identify and study the role of virulence factors of dermatophytes. This paper will summarize our current understanding of dermatophyte virulence factors and discuss future directions for identifying and testing virulence factors.
    International Journal of Microbiology 01/2012; 2012(1687-918X):358305. DOI:10.1155/2012/358305
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    ABSTRACT: Cryptococcosis, caused by the basidiomycetous fungus Cryptococcus neoformans, is responsible for more than 600,000 deaths annually in AIDS patients. Flucytosine is one of the most commonly used antifungal drugs for its treatment, but its resistance and regulatory mechanisms have never been investigated at the genome scale in C. neoformans. In the present study, we performed comparative transcriptome analysis by employing two-component system mutants (tco1Δ and tco2Δ) exhibiting opposing flucytosine susceptibility. As a result, a total of 177 flucytosine-responsive genes were identified, and many of them were found to be regulated by Tco1 or Tco2. Among these, we discovered an APSES-like transcription factor, Mbs1 (Mbp1- and Swi4-like protein 1). Expression analysis revealed that MBS1 was regulated in response to flucytosine in a Tco2/Hog1-dependent manner. Supporting this, C. neoformans with the deletion of MBS1 exhibited increased susceptibility to flucytosine. Intriguingly, Mbs1 played pleiotropic roles in diverse cellular processes of C. neoformans. Mbs1 positively regulated ergosterol biosynthesis and thereby affected polyene and azole drug susceptibility. Mbs1 was also involved in genotoxic and oxidative stress responses. Furthermore, Mbs1 promoted production of melanin and capsule and thereby was required for full virulence of C. neoformans. In conclusion, Mbs1 is considered to be a novel antifungal therapeutic target for treatment of cryptococcosis.
    Eukaryotic Cell 11/2011; 11(1):53-67. DOI:10.1128/EC.05236-11 · 3.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The fungal pathogen Candida albicans is frequently seen in immune suppressed patients, and resistance to one of the most widely used antifungals, fluconazole (FLC), can evolve rapidly. In recent years it has become clear that plasticity of the Candida albicans genome contributes to drug resistance through loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at resistance genes and gross chromosomal rearrangements that amplify gene copy number of resistance associated genes. This study addresses the role of the homologous recombination factors Rad54 and Rdh54 in cell growth, DNA damage and FLC resistance in Candida albicans. The data presented here support a role for homologous recombination in cell growth and DNA damage sensitivity, as Candida albicans rad54Δ/rad54Δ mutants were hypersensitive to MMS and menadione, and had an aberrant cell and nuclear morphology. The Candida albicans rad54Δ/rad54Δ mutant was defective in invasion of Spider agar, presumably due to the altered cellular morphology. In contrast, mutation of the related gene RDH54 did not contribute significantly to DNA damage resistance and cell growth, and deletion of either Candida albicans RAD54 or Candida albicans RDH54 did not alter FLC susceptibility. Together, these results support a role for homologous recombination in genome stability under nondamaging conditions. The nuclear morphology defects in the rad54Δ/rad54Δ mutants show that Rad54 performs an essential role during mitotic growth and that in its absence, cells arrest in G2. The viability of the single mutant rad54Δ/rad54Δ and the inability to construct the double mutant rad54Δ/rad54Δ rdh54Δ/rdh54Δ suggests that Rdh54 can partially compensate for Rad54 during mitotic growth.
    BMC Microbiology 09/2011; 11(1):214. DOI:10.1186/1471-2180-11-214 · 2.98 Impact Factor
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    Rebecca R Achterman · Adam R Smith · Brian G Oliver · Theodore C White
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    ABSTRACT: Although dermatophytes are the most common cause of fungal infections in the world, their basic biology is not well understood. The recent sequencing and annotation of the genomes of five representative dermatophyte species allows for the creation of hypotheses as to how they cause disease and have adapted to their distinct environments. An understanding of the microbiology of these strains will be essential for testing these hypotheses. This study is the first to generally characterize these five sequenced strains of dermatophytes for their microbiological aspects. We measured the growth rate on solid medium and found differences between species, with Microsporum gypseum CBS118893 having the fastest growth and Trichophyton rubrum CBS118892 the slowest. We also compared different media for conidia production and found that the highest numbers of conidia were produced when dermatophytes were grown on MAT agar. We determined the Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) of nine antifungal agents and confirmed susceptibility to antifungals commonly used as selectable markers. Finally, we tested virulence in the Galleria mellonella (wax moth) larvae model but found the results variable. These results increase our understanding of the microbiology and molecular biology of these dermatophyte strains and will be of use in advancing hypothesis-driven research about dermatophytes.
    Fungal Genetics and Biology 03/2011; 48(3):335-41. DOI:10.1016/j.fgb.2010.11.010 · 3.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Millions of humans and animals suffer from superficial infections caused by a group of highly specialized filamentous fungi, the dermatophytes, which exclusively infect keratinized host structures. To provide broad insights into the molecular basis of the pathogenicity-associated traits, we report the first genome sequences of two closely phylogenetically related dermatophytes, Arthroderma benhamiae and Trichophyton verrucosum, both of which induce highly inflammatory infections in humans. 97% of the 22.5 megabase genome sequences of A. benhamiae and T. verrucosum are unambiguously alignable and collinear. To unravel dermatophyte-specific virulence-associated traits, we compared sets of potentially pathogenicity-associated proteins, such as secreted proteases and enzymes involved in secondary metabolite production, with those of closely related onygenales (Coccidioides species) and the mould Aspergillus fumigatus. The comparisons revealed expansion of several gene families in dermatophytes and disclosed the peculiarities of the dermatophyte secondary metabolite gene sets. Secretion of proteases and other hydrolytic enzymes by A. benhamiae was proven experimentally by a global secretome analysis during keratin degradation. Molecular insights into the interaction of A. benhamiae with human keratinocytes were obtained for the first time by global transcriptome profiling. Given that A. benhamiae is able to undergo mating, a detailed comparison of the genomes further unraveled the genetic basis of sexual reproduction in this species. Our results enlighten the genetic basis of fundamental and putatively virulence-related traits of dermatophytes, advancing future research on these medically important pathogens.
    Genome biology 01/2011; 12(1):R7. DOI:10.1186/gb-2011-12-1-r7 · 10.47 Impact Factor
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    Janet F Staab · Theodore C White · Kieren A Marr
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    ABSTRACT: RNA interference/silencing mechanisms triggered by double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) have been described in many eukaryotes, including fungi. These mechanisms have in common small RNA molecules (siRNAs or microRNAs) originating from dsRNAs that, together with the effector protein Argonaute, mediate silencing. The genome of the fungal pathogen Candida albicans harbours a well-conserved Argonaute and a non-canonical Dicer, essential members of silencing pathways. Prototypical siRNAs are detected as members of the C. albicans transcriptome, which is potential evidence of RNA interference/silencing pathways in this organism. Surprisingly, expression of a dsRNA a hairpin ADE2 dsRNA molecule to interfere with the endogenous ADE2 mRNA did not result in down-regulation of the message or produce adenine auxotrophic strains. Cell free assays showed that the hairpin dsRNA was a substrate for the putative C. albicans Dicer, discounting the possibility that the nature of the dsRNA trigger affects silencing functionality. Our results suggested that unknown cellular events govern the functionality of siRNAs originating from transgenes in RNA interference/silencing pathways in C. albicans.
    Yeast 01/2011; 28(1):1-8. DOI:10.1002/yea.1814 · 1.74 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

4k Citations
275.61 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2011–2015
    • University of Missouri - Kansas City
      • • School of Biological Sciences
      • • Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics
      Kansas City, Missouri, United States
    • Duke University Medical Center
      Durham, North Carolina, United States
  • 2012
    • University of Aberdeen
      • Institute of Medical Sciences
      Aberdeen, SCT, United Kingdom
  • 1998–2011
    • University of Washington Seattle
      • • Department of Global Health
      • • Department of Pathology
      Seattle, Washington, United States
    • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
      • Division of Clinical Research
      Seattle, Washington, United States
    • University Hospital of Lausanne
      Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland
  • 1997–2011
    • Seattle Institute for Biomedical and Clinical Research
      Seattle, Washington, United States
  • 2008
    • Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
      Berlín, Berlin, Germany
  • 2002
    • Santa Clara Valley Medical Center
      San Jose, California, United States
  • 1999
    • University of Texas Medical School
      • Department of Internal Medicine
      Houston, Texas, United States