Dr. Keshet Ronen and the Somali Health Board partner to increase COVID-19 testing equity in King County, WA

Dr. Keshet Ronen (Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Global Health) and Dr. Ahmed Ali (Executive Director, Somali Health Board)

Congratulation to Dr. Keshet Ronen and Dr. Ahmed Ali for receiving a COVID-19 Population Health Equity Grant from the University of Washington to increase access to COVID-19 testing among the Somali community in King County, WA.  Led in partnership with the Somali Health Board, a Somali-led grassroots organization, this project aims to understand barriers to testing in this heavily impacted community and identify approaches to improve health equity in King County’s testing strategy.

Newly launched COVID MITS study aims to improve understanding of COVID-19 immunopathogenesis in Malawi

Dr. Donna Denno, Professor

Sarah Lawrence, Research Coordinator

Dr. Donna Denno, Professor of Pediatrics and Global Health and the Associate Director of Pediatrics for Global WACh, is a co-investigator of a new study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launching in August 2020.  The study titled “MITS for lung pathology and immune response in fatal COVID-19 in Malawi (MITS COVID)” is a one-year project conducted in collaboration with the University of Glasgow, University of Malawi College of Medicine, University of Amsterdam, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Blantyre Malaria Project, and University of Manchester.  Global WACh Research Coordinator, Sarah Lawrence, will also support this investigatory effort.  Building upon the platform established in the Minimally Invasive Tissue Sampling (MITS) in Malawi study (Co-PI: Denno), the team will address knowledge gaps on immune responses against COVID-19 that drive severe diseases in vital organs, particularly in the lung.

Dr. Patty Pavlinac receives NIH R01 grant to explore the roles of enteric pathogens and antimicrobial resistance to improve child health outcomes in SSA

Children hospitalized with severe illness in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are at high risk of morbidity and mortality following discharge from hospital, but mechanisms driving this vulnerability are poorly understood and there are no recommended interventions specifically targeting the post-discharge period.  Dr. Patty Pavlinac, Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Health and Co-Director of Global WACh’s Gut Health and Child Survival Priority Area, is the Principal Investigator of a newly awarded National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 grant to explore the mechanisms underlying this risk, including how azithromycin—an antibiotic commonly used to treat pediatric infections—affects children’s health and nutritional outcomes in SSA.  The findings will inform the development of interventions to reduce the risk of death, re-hospitalization, and growth faltering following hospitalizations among this vulnerable group of children.

The study titled, “The role of enteric pathogens and antimicrobial resistance in driving clinical and nutritional deterioration, and azithromycin’s potential effect, among children discharged from hospital in Kenya,” is a five-year study that builds on Global WACh’s recent Toto Bora trial in Kenya, a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial testing the effect of a 5-day course of azithromycin to reduce post-discharge morbidity and mortality among children under five years of age.  Dr. Pavlinac and a team of researchers will utilize Toto Bora’s cohort samples (stool and Escherichia coli isolates) and data to characterize enteric pathogens and antibiotic resistance using highly sensitive molecular diagnostic tools.  The results will offer insight into the role of these enteric pathways on children’s post-discharge outcomes and azithromycin’s effect on this pathway.

Dr. Pavlinac will be working in close collaboration with co-investigators from the University of Washington Drs. Donna Denno, Ferric Fang, Grace John-Stewart, Barbra Richardson, Judd Walson, and Epidemiology PhD Student Kirk Tickell; Drs. Sam Kariuki and Benson Singa from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI); and Drs. Eric Houpt, James Platt-Mills, and Jie Liu from the University of Virginia.  Congratulations to this team!

Dr. Arianna Means awarded NIH grant to develop strategies to improve pediatric treatment guideline adherence at healthcare facilities

Primary causes of death for children under five include pneumonia and diarrhea, and nearly half of deaths are attributable to undernutrition.  It is estimated that over half of these deaths are preventable with simple, existing, appropriately applied evidence-based interventions, synthesized within pediatric clinical treatment guidelines.  Although health workers in low-and-middle-income countries are trained on pediatric treatment guidelines, adherence to guidelines is often low and there is a need to identify strategies to improve quality of care in settings with the highest burden of preventable child deaths.

SEEMS-Nutrition estimates costs of early childhood development programs in Malawi

The Strengthening Economic Evaluation for Multi-sectoral Strategies for Nutrition (SEEMS-Nutrition) project, led by Dr. Carol Levin (Health Economist and Associate Professor, Global Health), has a unique opportunity to collect cost data alongside six on-going interventions and to generate new evidence on costs and cost-effectiveness of multi-sectoral projects in five country settings.  Click here to read more about SEEMS-Nutrition.

The project applied its costing evaluation approaches to retrospectively estimate the costs and impact for an integrated agricultural, early childhood development, and school feeding randomized-control trial conducted in Malawi. 

View recorded Global WACh research talks at UW

Over the spring academic quarter at UW, Global WACh investigators and student research assistants shared their work across various presentation platforms across campus.  Research span from assessing environmental enteric dysfunction on child health and survival to evaluating risks of depression among HIV-infected adolescent girls, to improved treatment of TB and HIV co-infections.

Click on the presentation titles below to access the recordings to view and learn more about our research.  A list of upcoming virtual presentations can be found below.

Researchers share latest findings virtually at CROI 2020

The annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) brings together top basic, translational, and clinical researchers from around the world to share the latest studies, important developments, and best research methods in the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases. Due to concerns of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the US, CROI 2020 was virtually held from March 8 to March 11, 2020.

Researchers present findings at the 2019 American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Conference

Last week, researchers from Global WACh’s Gut Health and Child Survival scientific priority area attended the 68th annual American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) Conference in National Harbor, MD.  ASTMH founded in 1903, is the largest international scientific organization of experts dedicated to reducing the worldwide burden of tropical infectious diseases and improving global health.  Experts envision a world free of tropical infectious diseases by generating and sharing scientific evidence, informing health policies and practices, fostering career development, recognizing excellence, and advocating for investment in tropical medicine/global health research.

Left to right: Hannah Atlas (MPH Student and Research Assistant), Dr. Rebecca Brander (Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Former Research Assistant), Dr. Christine McGrath (Assistant Professor, Global Health), Stephanie Tornberg-Belanger (PhD Epidemiology Student and Research Assistant)

Our researchers gave six oral presentations and presented six selected poster abstracts.  Topics ranged from childhood diarrhea and enteric diseases to implementation science approaches for mass drug administration to factors of hospitalized-based child mortality.  Scroll below to read each abstract and see photos from the conference.

New NIH study will test strategies to improve PrEP delivery to women receiving MCH services in Western Kenya

Left to right: Dr. Grace John-Stewart, Dr. Pamela Kohler, Dr. Anjuli Wagner, Dr. John Kinuthia

In February 2020, Global WACh researchers of ongoing PrEP implementation studies are launching a new five-year study titled, “PrEP in pregnancy, accelerating reach and efficiency (PrEPARE).”  PrEPARE is funded through a National Institute of Health supplement to the AGYW study, led by Global WACh Director, Dr. Grace John-Stewart and Dr. Pamela Kohler (Global Health, Psychosocial and Community Health) to evaluate PrEP adherence among adolescent girls and young women, and a K01 grant awarded to Dr. Anjuli Wagner (Acting Assistant Professor, Global Health).

Principal investigators, Drs. John-Stewart, Kohler, Wagner, and Dr. John Kinuthia (Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya) will lead the PrEPARE study team that includes Global WACh researchers, Dr. Jillian Pintye (School of Nursing), Dr. Kristin Beima-Sofie (Global Health), Julia Dettinger (Global Health) and Laurén Gomez (Global Health).

Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Erica Lokken, joins Global WACh to study role of vaginal bacteria in HIV acquisition among Kenyan women

Global WACh is pleased to welcome new Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Erica Lokken, to our team at UW! Dr. Lokken successfully defended her PhD in Epidemiology dissertation in August and received a National Institute of Health F32 postdoctoral fellowship in October. This fellowship will support her long-term career goal to become an independent investigator conducting research that informs interventions to improve women’s sexual and reproductive health, including outcomes such as STI/HIV acquisition, fertility, and miscarriage. The three-year fellowship will allow Dr. Lokken to study how alterations in the vaginal microbiota may partly explain the increased risk of HIV acquisition among pregnant and postpartum women compared to non-pregnant women. Understanding the relationship between high-risk bacterial species and vaginal inflammation across the pregnancy and postpartum periods may inform the development of prevention strategies to reduce risks of reproductive health complications.