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Reducing the Impact of Infectious Diseases by Supporting Trans-Disciplinary Academic Research


The goal of the GIDI iGrant Program is to support innovative, impactful research conducted by individuals. Consistent with GIDI's mission, these projects will promote trans-disciplinary research and extend GIDI's national and international footprint in infectious disease research.


United States
  • Jarrett Zigon Phd, William and Linda Porterfield Chair of Bioethics and Professor of Anthropology

I propose to spend the summer writing an article in which I explore the ethics of harm reduction, which is the most effective prevention program of infectious diseases among active injecting drug users. This article will argue that nonjudgement, which is the fundamental principle of harm reduction philosophy, is the basis for any ethical practice. As such, harm reduction as a public health initiative is perhaps the most visible example of ethics in practice.

  • Marcel E. Durieux MD, PhD, Emeritus Professor, Anesthesiology
  • Co-Investigator: Gregory R. Madden MD, Fellow in Infectious Disease Medicine, University of Virginia
  • Collaborator: Jean Paul Mvukiyehe MD, School of Medicine, University of Rwanda
  • Collaborator: Paulin Banguti MD, Chair Departments of Anesthesiology and Emergency Medicine, University of Rwanda

Nosocomial intensive care unit (ICU) infections have major impact on morbidity and mortality in low/middle-income countries (LMICs). In high-income countries (HIC), training personnel in basic infection prevention and control practices successfully reduces ICU-acquired infections, such as catheter-associated bloodstream infections. We hypothesize that ICU infections and associated adverse outcomes can be reduced in LMICs using similar interventions. We will investigate the feasibility of implementing a comprehensive ICU infection control training bundle and its effects on provider behavior at a representative LMIC ICU in Kigali (Rwanda).

Mbarara, Uganda
  • Gulleen, Elizabeth MD. Fellow of Infectious Diseases Medicine
  • Omoding Abrahams, MBChB, Mmed, Department of Medical Oncology, Uganda Cancer Institute, Kampala, Uganda
  • Jacinta Ambaru, MBChB, Medical Officer and Medical Resident, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda

Cancer is an enormous clinical burden in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and as cancer treatment becomes more available, post-chemotherapy infections are an increasing cause of morbidity and mortality. Little is known about the microbiology, risk factors, and outcomes of post-chemotherapy infection in SSA where HIV and malaria are endemic and community-acquired sepsis is often caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) and Salmonella bacteremia. In order to determine the risk-factors and microbiology of post-chemotherapy febrile illness (PCFI) we will conduct a prospective cohort study including a chart review and infectious tests (blood cultures, malaria and TB testing, and multiplex quantitative PCR of blood samples) in patients who have received chemotherapy, develop fever, and are admitted to the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) in Kampala, Uganda or the Oncology Ward at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST).        

United States
  • John Moore, Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Electrical Engineering, School of Engineering & Applied Science

We aim to validate the use of a stool coculture system to validate host susceptibility to antimicrobial resistant pathogens from host stool following antibiotic exposure.  A rapid method to determine changes in pathogen viability using dielectrophoresis will be used to determine  resistance to colonization in as little as 4 hours.

  • Kamwoo Lee PhD candidate in Systems and Information Engineering

This project aims to map NTD distribution in Senegal and West African countries through satellite remote sensing so that we can identify vulnerable populations both regionally and socially. This research proposes a method that combines two engineering techniques ― machine learning and simulation. I believe this method is an effective and efficient way to tackle the biggest obstacles to reaching the goal – lack of data and complexity of the diseases.

United States
  • Ye Lin Ph.D. candidate, Department of Statistics, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Scientific research has shown that diarrhea in early childhood leads to growth shortfalls. In this project, we propose a dynamic nonparametric model to estimate how the effects of diarrhea on childhood growth change over time and the length of this effect period. Carrying out the proposed research makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the dynamic effects of diarrhea, to the development of timely medical intervention, and to the improvement of the health of children at early ages globally, resulting in better social-economical status during their adulthoods.


  • MD Amzad Hossain, Ph. D Candidate College of Arts & Sciences-Economics
  • Tania Thomas MD, MPH. Assistant Professor School of Medicine
  • Collaborator: Najeeha Iqbal, PhD. Rank: Assistant Professor Aga Khan University, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Pakistan

A diagnostic biomarker for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) that performs well in children is urgently needed. Our project focuses on improving methods of diagnosing tuberculosis (TB) from urine: we will compare the ability to detect the lipoarabinomannan protein (Determine TB LAM Ag, Abbott, MA) with and without a specimen processing step using the Nanotrap method (Ceres Technology, Manassas, VA) which uses nanoparticle technology to concentrate proteins of interest and filter out interfering substances from urine. We anticipate that the Nanotrap method will augment the detection of LAM in urine samples from children diagnosed with TB.

United States
  • Shiwei Liu, Graduate Student-Biology Graduate Program

This project analyzes genome amplification events using single cell sequencing of malaria parasites, Plasmodium falciparum. The project aim to understand the mechanism of genome amplification and its role in antimalarial resistance. Ultimately, we hope to develop novel strategies to block the development of antimalarial resistance."

Trinidad and Tobago
  • Christina Pierre Ph. D., Clinical Chemistry Fellow Pathology

Most cervical cancers are caused by infection with high-risk strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. Cervical cancer is preventable through vaccination against HPV and regular screening tests. In the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) is one of few countries that has not seen a decline in cervical cancer mortality and has the second highest mortality to incidence ratio after Haiti. Our study seeks to examine the use of social media as a tool for cervical cancer education, research and outreach in the T&T population. An estimated 51% of the T&T population 18 years and older are Facebook users and consequently, we believe that Facebook represents an effective means of educating and mobilizing the T&T population towards cervical cancer prevention.

South Africa
  • Courtney Hill, Ph. D. Candidate, School of Engineering and Applied Science

Courtney is conducting a randomized controlled trial to assess the relationship between access to treating water in the home and linear growth stunting in children. The study is following 400 households in rural South Africa for two years measuring height, weight, and bacteria found in stool from children in each household to understand how water interventions affect human health.

United States
  • Costi Sifri MD., Associate Professor of Internal Medicine; Hospital Epidemiologist.
  • Co-Investigator: Gregory Madden MD.
  • Co-Investigator: David C. Smith PhD. McIntire School of Commerce and Associate Dean for Center Development & Research

Clostridium difficile is the leading pathogen causing healthcare-associated infections; however, use of highly sensitive PCR stool testing can mistakenly diagnose C. difficile infection in patients who are asymptomatically colonized with C. difficile, leading to unnecessary treatment and other healthcare expenses. By leveraging PCR cycle threshold data to differentiate true infection versus colonization and identifying determinants of costs in these groups, we aim to answer the critical question: what is the cost of C. difficile overtesting and overdiagnosis?

  • Richard Deang Ph. D. Candidate, College of Arts & Sciences-Anthropology

This project is an ethnographic study of MSM-focused (“men who have sex with men”) community-based organizations in charge of the rollout of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in the Philippines. By looking into the ways in which “peer counselors” are trained to infuse ideas of personhood and community into their work, this project asks how the articulation of drug use and clinical consultations with sexual practices, friendship, and care not only affects public health programs but also creates new lifeworlds and personhoods for MSM.