University of Tennessee
Associate Professor, University of Tennessee, Memphis, U.S.
Dr. Fortwendel is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Translational Science. He earned his PhD from the University of Cincinnati in 2000 where he developed expertise in areas relating to cellular morphogenesis and virulence in pathogenic fungi, specifically focusing on Aspergillus genetics and pathogenesis.
Dr. Fortwendel completed post-doctoral training first at the University of Cincinnati and later at Duke University Medical Center, as part of the NIH-funded Molecular Mycology and Pathogenesis Training Program.
Dr. Fortwendel established his first laboratory as a member of the Microbiology and Immunology program at the University of South Alabama where he continued investigations into Aspergillus pathogenesis.
He has been a faculty member in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Translational Science at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center since 2016. The majority of his work now focuses on understanding various aspects of fungal morphogenesis and how filamentous fungi maintain invasive hyphal structures under host-induced stress. Within this area, the Fortwendel laboratory has a long-standing interest in the network biology of signaling cascades regulating fungal development and virulence specifically focusing on Ras- and Ras-associated proteins. In addition, his laboratory was the first to adapt a portable, DNA-free system for CRISPR/Cas9 mediated gene mutation in Aspergillus fumigatus. This technique is making possible the rapid manipulation of A. fumigatus environmental and clinical isolates. More recently, the Fortwendel laboratory has employed this new tool to begin the exploration of antifungal resistance mechanisms in the Aspergilli as part of an ongoing battle to preserve the clinical utility of the triazole-class antifungal drugs.