The Division of Infectious Diseases at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center conducts broad-based research focused on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of childhood infections. Vaccine development and evaluation in both children and adults is a prominent focus of the division, highlighted by the NIH-funded Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU) and other sponsored trials within the Gamble Program for Clinical Studies. Additional clinical research focus areas include epidemiology and surveillance of pediatric infections, vaccine safety, clinical research in transplant populations, and analyzing the microbiome of high risk children as a means of predicting invasive disease. Basic science efforts are strong in virology, macrophage biology, and immunity to pediatric infections.

The Spearman laboratory is investigating HIV envelope trafficking and HIV replication in macrophages and microglia. The pathway employed by HIV envelope in reaching the particle budding site is a circuitous one that requires outward sorting from the recycling endosome, and the laboratory is defining host factors such as Rab11-FIP1C that direct this process.

Dr. Jason Jiang, PhD, and his colleague, Dr. Ming Tan, PhD, continue to focus on rotavirus and norovirus research. They defined the interactions of rotavirus with human histo-blood group antigens and are employing novel organoid models and animal models in their studies of enteric viral pathogens.

Dr. Joe Qualls, PhD, studies of the regulation of immunity to mycobacteria show that L-citrulline metabolism is essential for control of mycobacteria such as M. tuberculosis in vivo. These studies have implications for anti-mycobacterial interventions and potentially for the control of fungal pathogens.

Dr. Sing Sing Way, MD, PhD, and his group continue to publish groundbreaking research in the areas of microbial infection, host antimicrobial immunity, and infections in pregnancy and the early newborn period. They demonstrated this year that commensal fungi can provide protective benefits through protecting against mucosal injury and enhancing local and systemic immunity.

Dr. Nancy Sawtell’s laboratory is investigating herpesvirus biology, including the basis for herpesvirus reactivation from latency.

The Gamble Program for Clinical Studies at Cincinnati Children's is performing cutting-edge vaccine trials through government, foundation and industry sponsors. Drs. David Bernstein, MD, MA, and Bob Frenck, MD, lead this unit, while Drs. Grant Paulsen, MD; Rebecca Brady, MD; Mary Staat, MD, MPH; Paul Spearman, MD, and others in the division lead individual studies. Current studies include vaccines for avian influenza, Ebola, Andes, RSV, Shigella, norovirus, universal influenza vaccine candidates, and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines.

Dr. Staat leads studies of ID epidemiology and vaccine safety in the division through CDC and industry funding. A longitudinal infant cohort study is close to revealing many novel aspects of exposure to infections during the newborn period and first two years of life, and will be especially valuable in describing enteric and respiratory infections. Dr. Elizabeth Schlaudecker, MD, MPH, is working with Dr. Staat and focusing on immunization in pregnant women and in the elderly.

Dr. Lara Danziger-Isakov, MD, MPH, with help from Dr. Grant Paulsen, MD, leads Transplant ID which offers new areas for research. Some of the areas of study include the pharmacology of new anti-infectives and immune modulators in the transplant population, and vaccine responses in solid organ and BMT populations.

Dr. David Haslam, MD, pioneers metagenomic studies of the stool microbiome at Cincinnati Children's. Recent work includes analysis of staph aureus acquisition and epidemiology in the NICU, and developing predictive models for invasive bacterial disease in high-risk children at the hospital. He mentors Heidi Andersen, who joined our faculty this year. Heidi was recently awarded a St. Baldrick’s Scholar award for her career development and research interests of predicting and preventing infections in BMT patients through microbiome analysis and intervention.