Paving a path for Valley fever research, treatment, prevention

Oct. 2, 2023

For four decades, John Galgiani, MD, has pioneered translational research and clinical care for Valley fever, a disease more common in Arizona than anywhere else.

Each year, about 150,000 people in the United States contract Valley fever, a fungal infection in the lungs. Nearly two-thirds of those infections happen in Arizona. For decades, there has been some mystery surrounding Valley fever, especially when it comes to understanding why some people get sick but not others.

In the search for answers, few people know more about Valley fever than John Galgiani, MD. Since joining the University of Arizona faculty in 1978, Galgiani has become a preeminent leader in Valley fever research, education and patient care.

In addition to his duties as a professor and director of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, Galgiani recently founded the Valley Fever Collaborative, a UArizona Health Sciences initiative that unites UArizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University researchers in their efforts to understand the disease better, develop rapid diagnostic tests, find a cure and develop a preventative vaccine for Valley fever.

Valley fever is caused by the fungus Coccidioides, which grows in soils in areas of low rainfall, high summer temperatures and moderate winter temperatures, including much of Arizona and surrounding areas. In 1996, Galgiani founded the Valley Fever Center for Excellence, which plays a pivotal role in educating medical providers across Arizona about the disease, aiding patients and advancing groundbreaking research on the disease and the fungus that causes it.

A person or animal acquires Valley fever by inhaling one or more airborne spores of the fungus, which can be carried from the soil if it is disturbed or by the wind. In severe cases, the disease can spread from the lungs to other parts of the body and can be fatal. Galgiani headed clinical trials that led to a treatment that completely changed the clinical management of Valley fever meningitis, a life-threatening complication of the disease.

Our Experts

John Galgiani, MD
Director, Valley Fever Center for Excellence
Professor, Department of Medicine, College of Medicine – Tucson
Member, BIO5 Institute
Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine – Phoenix


Blair Willis
UArizona Health Sciences