Infectious Diseases Research

A wide variety of interdisciplinary research projects examine some of the more exciting issues in infectious disease, such as antibiotic resistance, emerging infections and the production of safe and effective vaccines. Get the latest vaccine news from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In keeping with his vision that an infectious disease division should embrace many academic fields, former division director Kwang Sik Kim created a monthly infectious disease meeting designed to help scientists from all Johns Hopkins research divisions come together and collaborate on new infectious disease research projects.

Summary of Faculty Research Activities

Allison Agwu, M.D., Sc.M.

Dr. Agwu’s research has evolved from basic science laboratory studies to public health and then translational and clinical studies examining disparities, deciphering treatment strategies and optimizing outcomes for youth living with HIV. Dr. Agwu has an independent research program that focuses on optimizing the multifaceted care of youth living with HIV. Furthermore, she leads the JHU sites of the pediatric/adolescent/maternal clinical trials networks and participates in network leadership, which affords her the opportunity to participate in the generation and implementation of international pediatric and adolescent HIV research initiatives. She also sits on the and is a member of the HIV Medicine Association board of directors.

Sanjay K. Jain, M.B.B.S.

The major focus of Dr. Jain’s research is the development of imaging technologies for infections, with a special emphasis on bacteria and high-containment pathogens such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis (causative agent of tuberculosis) and recently SARS-CoV-2. Dr. Jain’s laboratory uses small animal models to develop and test novel radiopharmaceutical imaging methods (CT, PET, SPECT) to diagnose and monitor infections and to study disease pathogenesis. The lab has the unique capacity to image animals infected with high-containment pathogens (up to biosafety level-3). Several novel tracers developed in his laboratory are now being tested in first-in-human studies. Dr. Jain is also involved with developing innovative technologies to improve childhood immunizations and health of young children in the developing world.

Carlton K. Lee, Pharm.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Lee has extensive experience in the area of pediatric clinical pharmacology with teaching responsibilities for the Johns Hopkins pharmacy and medical residents and students. He has research experience with antimicrobial drug development in children and several pediatric pharmacology-related projects. Dr. Lee’s current research interests include pediatric clinical pharmacology and pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic evaluations.

Aaron Milstone, M.D., M.H.S.

Dr. Milstone’s research focuses on the prevention of antibiotic resistance and health care-associated infections. His studies are defining the prevalence and transmission of multidrug-resistant bacteria, identifying interventions to reduce their spread and prevent health care-associated infections, and understanding the epidemiology and prevention of bloodstream infections.

Deborah Persaud, M.D.

Dr. Persaud’s area of research focuses on the mechanisms of HIV persistence in viral reservoirs in perinatal and adolescent infections toward informing novel therapeutic strategies toward ART-free HIV remission and cure. This translational research program is enabled by Dr. Persaud’s leadership as the scientific chair for the HIV Cure Scientific Committee for the NIH-sponsored International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Network and her role as the principal investigator for the IMPAACT HIV Cure subspecialty laboratory where novel assays to detect low-level infection events are applied. Dr. Persaud’s laboratory is also a virology core laboratory for the NIH-sponsored HIV Prevention Trials Network, where ultrasensitive assays to detect occult HIV infection in study participants in long-acting HIV prevention biologics are studied.

Nicole Salazar-Austin, M.D., Sc.M.

Dr. Salazar-Austin’s research focuses on TB prevention, ranging from pediatric pharmacokinetic studies of new TB prevention regimens to improving service delivery models for TB prevention among pregnant women, children and adolescents living with and without HIV disease in resource-limited settings. Improving service delivery models includes decentralization of medical and social services into rural areas, task-shifting from physicians to nurses, appropriate triaging of patient care, and harnessing and utilizing community resources.

Anna Sick-Samuels, M.D., M.P.H.

The focus of Dr. Sick-Samuel’s research is to describe the epidemiology of and to develop effective strategies to prevent multidrug-resistant infections in children, particularly health care-associated infections. She is investigating how diagnostic stewardship may optimize the use of microbiology testing and associated antibiotic prescribing in hospitalized children. Her other interests include patient safety and quality improvement, and response to emerging or reemerging infectious such as Zika virus and measles and respiratory viruses such as SARS-CoV-2.

Pranita Tamma, M.D., M.H.S.

Dr. Tamma’s research focuses on improving the diagnostic and therapeutic choices for infections caused by multidrug-resistant gram-negative organisms. Additionally, she conducts comparative effectiveness studies focusing on clinical outcomes related to antibiotic administration strategies in both children and adults to assist with the early optimization of antibiotic therapy. In 2022, Dr. Tamma was awarded the Gale and Ira Drukier Prize in Children’s Health Research from Weill Cornell Medicine for her work in identifying and addressing antimicrobial resistance in gram-negative bacteria.