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  • Ongoing Research

  • Ongoing research

    The center is working under a series of grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Gates Grand Challenges in Global Health.

    Ongoing research activities include:

    • Vaccine development for malaria and schistosomiasis in Kenya and the Philippines.
    • Identifying the mechanisms of naturally acquired protective immune responses and mechanisms of nutritional, cognitive and hematologic morbidity associated with schistosomiasis in the Philippines.
    • Identifying the mechanisms of severe malarial syndromes in Tanzania.
    • Conducting a randomized placebo controlled trial of praziquantel for the treatment of schistosomiasis during pregnancy in the Philippines.
    • Identifying the mechanisms of poor pregnancy outcome in schistosome-infected pregnant women in the Philippines.

    An In-Depth Look at Our Research

    The Center for International Health Research conducts studies addressing the mechanisms of parasitic disease morbidity. An RO-1 study that is nearing completion has addressed mechanisms of morbidity in S. japonicum infection and identified potential vaccine candidates. This study employed a population-based, longitudinal design which characterizes morbidity in the study population over time and relates this to basic biologic mechanisms of disease, such as cytokine-mediated under-nutrition and dyserythropoiesis, and assesses host resistance to infection over time and relates this to immune responses to identify potential vaccine candidates. It also identifies host factors that may modify development of immune responses to vaccine candidates.
    CIHRA recent pilot study conducted in the Philippines has examined the impact of S. japonicum infection on pregnancy outcomes and identified potential mechanisms mediating the poor birth outcomes in S. japonicum-infected women.  This work identified placental inflammatory responses and alternations in iron metabolism in the context of S. japonicum as potential mediating factors. That study laid the groundwork for an RO-1 that will utilize a randomized controlled design to more precisely measure the impact of this infection on maternal and birth outcomes. This work will also characterize alterations in iron metabolism, nutritional parameters and placental immune responses that may be responsible for adverse birth outcomes. This study is one model of cooperation between clinician scientists and basic immunologists designed to understand mechanisms of morbidity that should, in turn, guide therapeutic options for pregnant women with this infection and other inflammatory diseases during pregnancy. 
    CIHRA recent NIH-funded study in malaria further exemplifies the center's trans-disciplinary approach to vaccine development. We enrolled a cohort of individuals living in a P. falciparum holoendemic area of Kenya. We treated this cohort with anti-malarials and measured the heterogeneity in reinfection over four months. We used sera from the ten most resistant and ten least resistant individuals to screen a parasite cDNA library to identify parasite genes that encode proteins that are only recognized by the resistant individuals. We identified three vaccine candidates using this approach and are preparing an R-01 application to test the hypothesis that antibody and cytokine responses to these antigens will predict resistance to reinfection.