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Johns Hopkins Children’s Center

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Infectious Diseases Research

Summary Of Faculty Research Activities

Allison Agwu
Epidemiologic approaches to HIV pathogenesis in adolescent patients.  Particular interests include the study of the application of clinical treatment guidelines to adolescent patients, utilization of care, and additionally the host and viral ramifications of the therapies administered.  Dr. Agwu is further developing her skills in clinical epidemiology, study design, and implementation and analysis of longitudinal cohorts.  She is the protocol chair of an international study evaluating a novel treatment approach for HIV-infected children, adolescents, and young adults.     

Niranjan Bhat
Respiratory infections in children. Dr. Bhat is involved in clinical and epidemiologic studies examining the pathogenesis and prevention of pneumonia and respiratory viral infections in pediatric populations. Lead investigator of a study examining the viral etiologies and inflammatory responses associated with lower respiratory tract illness in a large cohort of Native American infants. He is also a member of a multicenter study examining the various infectious causes of pneumonia among children in the developing world. In addition, is a consultant to the CDC regarding swine-origin influenza (H1N1) prevention and control efforts.

Ravit Boger
Congenital CMV infection; detection of CMV in different tissues, viral markers of disease outcome; sequence variation of viral genes homologous to cytokines and chemokines; association of multiple CMV strains and outcome of infection, viral strains and their effect on apoptosis. 

Neal Halsey
Prevention of infectious diseases with the safest vaccines possible. Dr. Halsey has conducted or participated in epidemiological studies of vaccine-preventable diseases and phase I, II and III vaccine trials of hepatitis B, hepatitis A, inactivated polio virus, pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type B, tetanus, Lyme disease, rotavirus, Argentina Hemorrhagic Fever, and influenzae vaccine viruses. The control of measles has been a particular focus of interest and he supports the ongoing measles and poliomyelitis eradication efforts. His interest in vaccine safety stems from experience with vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis, increased mortality after high titer measles vaccines, and smallpox vaccine. On-going studies include: measles epidemiology, Hib and pneumococcal disease in developing countries, persistent poliovirus excretion in immunodeficient children, adverse effects of smallpox vaccine, alternative injection devices, parental understanding of vaccine safety.

Sanjay K. Jain
Primary research interests include bacterial pathogenesis (especially CNS TB), development of imaging technologies for diagnosis and monitoring of infectious and inflammatory diseases and Pediatric TB.  Dr. Jain has developed both in vitro and in vivo murine models to study CNS invasion by M. tuberculosis.  Dr. Jain is developing imaging technologies to evaluate bacterial infection such as M. tuberculosis infections in real-time. These include imaging to evaluate the anatomic and inflammatory state of lungs of animals experimentally infected with M. tuberculosis. Further, using novel radio-nucleotide imaging technology (PET and SPECT), Dr. Jain is also developing technologies to image bacteria. He is also leading a study to evaluate a novel TB test for the diagnosis of active TB in young HIV infected children in India.

Ruth Karron
Involved in the development and evaluation of respiratory virus vaccines, and has conducted numerous phase I and II NIH and industry-sponsored trials of live attenuated influenza, parainfluenza, and respiratory syncytial virus vaccines in adults, children, and young infants.  Dr. Karron is also interested in the epidemiology of respiratory virus infection, and has conducted or collaborated in surveillance studies to assess the impact of respiratory virus infection in Alaskan Native and American Indian populations and in developing country settings.  Her research also focuses on the development of the immune response to respiratory viruses in infants and children.

Kwang Sik Kim
Main research interests are in the pathogenesis of sepsis and central nervous system (CNS) infections using microbial genomics, proteomics, lipidomics and cell biological approaches.  Sepsis and CNS infections are prevalent and remain the major causes of mortality and morbidity throughout the world, and attempts to control such diseases have been hampered by incomplete knowledge of the pathogenesis. Dr. Kim’s group is the first to show, using E. coli, how bacteria translocate from blood to the CNS. His group is also one of the first to show that endotoxin requires soluble CD14 for activating endothelial cells. His continued investigations of microbes-host interactions pertaining to pathogenesis will lead to development of novel strategies (e.g., vaccines and non-vaccines) to prevent sepsis and CNS infections.

Carlton K. Lee
Extensive experience in the area of pediatric clinical pharmacology with teaching responsibilities to the Johns Hopkins pharmacy and medical residents and students.  Has research experience with phase I/IV pharmacokinetic/drug development studies in Cystic Fibrosis and HIV/AIDS.  Dr. Lee’s current research interests include Pediatric Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetic/Pharmacodynamic evaluations.

Julia McMillan
Epidemiology of respiratory viral infection.  Dr. McMillan contracts with the Indian Health Service for a pediatric resident rotation.  She is also very involved in administrative and teaching aspects of the department, serving as Vice Chair for Education for the Department of Pediatrics, as Director of the Department of Pediatrics’ Residency Program.  She also serves the School of Medicine as Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education.  She has been involved in policy making nationally as a member of the Committee on Infectious Diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Task Force on Terrorism for the American Academy of Pediatrics.  She is currently a member of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s Review Committee for Pediatrics.  This organization reviews and accredits residency training programs across the United States.

Aaron Milstone
Focused on the prevention of hospital acquired infections in children.  He studies the prevalence and transmission of multidrug-resistant bacteria in hospitalized children and tests interventions to prevent their spread and reduce hospital-acquired infections.  Dr. Milstone also has on-going projects to determine whether new rapid diagnostic tests will enable early access to therapy and reduce transmission of viruses between hospitalized children.  

Katherine L. O’Brien
Works both domestically and internationally on the epidemiology and evaluation of prevention strategies for community acquired bacterial and viral diseases of childhood and adulthood, primarily pneumococcus, Haemophilus influenzae type b, RSV, and influenza.  Dr. O’Brien has conducted numerous phase III and IV studies of vaccines against pneumococcus, RSV, and influenza as well as vaccine trials of Hepatitis A and rotavirus.  The primary study sites domestically are with American Indians in the southwest of the United States.  Internationally, Dr. O’Brien is the Deputy Director of the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) which aims to develop and move evidence regarding vaccine uses and effect into policy for the world’s children, particularly those in developing world settings.

Deborah Persaud
Area of research focuses on the mechanisms of HIV persistence in reservoirs children, selection and transmission of drug resistant HIV during chemoprophylaxis for prevention of mother-to-child transmission, and their implications for antiretroviral therapy.  Dr. Persaud’s research focus is also on therapeutic HIV vaccines and the development of field-friendly assays for infant diagnosis and drug resistance testing.

Andrea Ruff
Research interests are concentrated primarily on HIV.  P.I. of a recently completed NIH-funded clinical trial in Ethiopia determining the efficacy of nevirapine prophylaxis in preventing HIV transmission through breastfeeding; this trial was conducted in collaboration with Drs. Brooks Jackson and Bob Bollinger and their colleagues in Uganda and India.  Dr. Ruff also directs the CDC PEPFAR funded Technical Support for the Ethiopia HIV/AIDS Initiative (TSEHAI), providing technical expertise/assistance to hospitals, the ministry of health and universities in Ethiopia as they roll-out HIV prevention and treatment activities.

Mathuram Santosham
Main focus is in oral rehydration therapy, for which his research is world-renowned.  Dr. Santosham has conducted numerous clinical trials in the U.S. and worldwide on the safety and efficacy of oral rehydration therapy and gastroenteritis.  In the last 15 years he has evaluated numerous Pediatric vaccines among the Navajo and Apache Indian populations including Hib, Hepatitis A, rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines.  He conducted the pivotal PRP-OMP conjugate vaccine efficacy trial, which led to the licensure of the vaccine (Pedvax Hib). Conducted a pivotal clinical trial on the efficacy safety of the currently licensed pneumococcal conjugate vaccines.  His group has also conducted a series of studies on the immunology, pathogenesis, dynamics of carriage and correlates of protection for pneumococcal infections.  His group is also currently conducting a clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of an enhanced monoclonal antibody for the prevention of RSV infections among the Navajo and Apache Indian populations. And Dr. Santosham is the P.I. on a 37 million dollar grant from GAVI termed the Hib initiative.  The main objective of this initiative is to assist the poorest countries in the world to make an appropriate decision about introduction of one of the Hib vaccines into their national programs.  As part of the initiative, a series of studies have been conducted to evaluate the disease burden of Hib in different countries.  In addition, cost effectiveness of the vaccine and evaluation of the introduction of Hib vaccines in several countries have been evaluated.  

Pranita Tamma
Focus on optimizing the use of antimicrobial therapy in children.  She conducts outcomes studies to determine the  optimal duration of antibiotic therapy for various infections, to determine whether combination therapy is comparable to monotherapy, and to better understand adverse outcomes related to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics.  She is particularly interested in the emergence of multidrug resistant Gram-negative resistance as a consequence of antimicrobial use.   

Robert Yolken
Director of the Stanley Division, and former Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Dr. Yolken’s research continues to be very closely tied to that of the other faculty in the group.  The overall goal of the research laboratory is to develop a training and research program devoted to the elucidation of the role of infection and immunity in the etiology of schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.  Interests also include elucidating the role of perinatal infections in subsequent brain development.

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