Global WACh

January 16, 2018

Dr. Jennifer Slyker Receives Funding Award from National Institute of Health

Jenn Slyker

Dr. Jennifer Slyker, PhD, MSc, Assistant Professor of Global Health and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, received a R21 National Institute of Health Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award to support on-going research on the risk factors and mechanisms of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS.  Dr. Slyker’s project titled “Cytomegalovirus (CMV) as a cause or co-pathogen in cervicitis” aims to determine whether CMV, a common virus that replicates in cervical tissue, contributes to cases of “non-specific” cervicitis and persistent cervical inflammation.

Cervicitis is usually caused by STIs and if left untreated, can lead to more serious infections of the uterus, infertility, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.  Cervicitis attributed to a “specific” bacterial infection can be easily treated.  However, up to 40% of women with cervicitis do not have a specific bacterial infection that can be identified. Understanding which bacteria or viruses contribute to these “non-specific” cases will help researchers understand better the basic biological processes of the condition and develop new treatments.

Dr. Slyker and her team plan to use data and specimens from a 20 year cohort of more than 2,000 female sex workers in Mombasa, Kenya led by Dr. Scott McClelland (Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology, and Global Health).  This long-term observational cohort has been invaluable in STIs and HIV/AIDS research at the University of Washington.  If CMV is found to be an important contributor to cervicitis, clinical trials can determine if antiviral medication is effective in treating non-specific cervicitis and cervicitis that does not respond to conventional treatment.

We congratulate Dr. Slyker for her award and look forward to learning how the study findings could benefit the large percentage of women globally with non-specific cervicitis!  The study is expected to end in 2020.