Areas

Tim Menza at ID Week 2017
ID Fellow Dr. Tim Menza presents his poster about self-swabbing to diagnose STD infections among patients in the UNC Infectious Diseases Clinic during ID Week.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
UNC-Project Malawi STI Clinic - UNC-Project Malawi is home to the country’s only two board certified infectious diseases specialists. The Sexually Transmitted Infections Clinic not only provides testing and care for more than 7,000 patients each year, but it is also the site of research into genital ulcer etiology, acute HIV detection, cervical cancer screening, anti-microbial resistance and recruitment of at risk subjects for a variety of UNC-led HIV research. Since 2006, this clinic has maintained a robust clinical database that is invaluable for analyzing trends and is used as a source of data for a variety of UNC trainees.

UNC-Project China - The goal of the Immunology and Biology of Infectious Syphilis (IBIS) research project is to better understand the immunological basis for serological responses to syphilis. Approximately 20 percent of syphilis-treated individuals lack a serological response to therapy, calling into question one of the cornerstones of conventional clinical management. The IBIS team has made great progress during the past year, including successfully obtaining NIH supplemental funding for syphilis research training in Guangzhou. Vice-Director of the Guangdong Provincial STD Control Center, Dr. Heping Zheng, spent several months learning about B-cell immunology and cell sorting technology in the Duke laboratory of D43 training faculty, Dr. Anthony Moody.  Assistant Director of the Guangdong Provincial STD Control Center Laboratory, Dr. Yaohua Xue, learned about cutting-edge molecular techniques for detection of Treponema pallidum, the bacteria that causes syphilis infection, in the laboratory of D43 training faculty, Dr. Justin Radolf.

HIV
UNC is also home to Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), directed by Ron Swanstrom, PhD. The Institute of Global Health & Infectious Diseases is home to the Collaboratory of AIDS Researchers for Eradication (CARE). CARE is a consortium of leading scientific experts in the field of HIV latency from several U.S. and European academic research institutions as well as Merck Research Laboratories working together to find a cure for HIV. UNC’s David Margolis, MD, leads CARE, which is headquartered in Chapel Hill. Since 2011 CARE research results have been published in more than 100 scientific journals. In February 2015, CARE collaborated with several other HIV organizations to release CUREiculum, digestible explanations of cure research designed for the layperson. Dr. Margolis and his team have also recently secured funding for the first study of a combination approach to purge and clear latent infection measuring the effects of Vorinostat in people living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy who have received an autologous DC cellular vaccine to boost HIV-specific immune response. Also on the HIV cure front, Angela Kashuba, PharmD, and collaborators including Victor Garcia-Martinez, PhD, received $4.4 million in R01 funding to help develop treatments that target HIV reservoirs. In order to develop and select treatments that will suppress the virus in all tissues and to help inform the work being done to cure HIV, Kashuba and her laboratory will identify which drugs penetrate tissues best and what mechanisms they use to do so.

Myron Cohen, MD, serves as the co-Principal Investigator (PI) of the NIH HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN). The HPTN has 22 research sites around the world. Dr. Cohen serves as PI of the HPTN 052 study, and is a Protocol Chair of HPTN 081/HPTN 074 designed to determine if the VRC01 monoclonal antibody can prevent HIV acquisition.

Joseph Eron, MD, along with co-principal investigators Jeff Stringer, MD, and Mina Hosseinipour, MD, MPH, led the successful funding of the NIH HIV Network Clinical Trials Unit with sites in Chapel Hill and Greensboro, North Carolina; Lilongwe, Malawi; and Lusaka, Zambia, contributing to trials sponsored by HIV prevention, treatment and vaccine research networks.

Parasitology
Interest in research into parasitic tropical infections has been growing at UNC. Current research programs include basic parasite biology, translational research, particularly in molecular epidemiology and drug resistance, and clinical trials. The most concentrated focus is malaria research.

Steven Meshnick, MD, PhD, has a robust research program investigating the epidemiology of malaria across Africa. He has NIH funded projects to study epidemiological and spatial models of malaria transmission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to evaluate malaria vaccine efficacy in preventing pregnancy associated complications of malaria. He also is actively working with the Gate’s funded Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium to study the epidemiology and appropriate prevention of malaria in pregnant women. Jonathan Juliano, MD, continues to study the evolutionary and ecological factors that drive the emergence of drug resistance and the diversification of candidate malaria vaccine antigens. Dr. Juliano’s group has pioneered the use of state of the art sequencing techniques to push this field forward. Leading a multi-institutional study that included the University of Massachusetts and Karolinska Institute, his group recently published the first large scale survey of resistance associated genes in Africa in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. Finally, Carla Cerami, PhD, is researching the role of iron in the host pathogen interaction during malaria infection. This project, funded by both the Gates Foundation and the National Institute of Child Health and Development, is conducted primarily in The Gambia in collaboration with the Medical Research Council Unit in Gambia (MRC-Gambia), the International Nutrition Group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Finally our UNC-Project Malawi site was one of only 10 sites worldwide conducting a phase III trial of the first malaria vaccine. Results are expected this spring. 

Non-HIV Related Virology
There is a variety of research opportunities in non-HIV related virology for ID fellow trainees at UNC. These include the Lineberger global oncology program led by Blossom Damania, PhD, and Dirk Dittmer, MD, and an NIH-funded Program Project in its 35th year of funding that also includes Nancy Raab-Traub, PhD, and Joseph Pagano, MD. Ralph Baric, PhD, is recognized as a world leader in coronavirus biology and he leads several NIH-funded centers that also focus on zoonotic and emerging viral pathogens as well as host pathogen interactions, including an Orfeome Project. Stan Lemon, MD, is performing cutting edge work in the innate immune evasion and pathogenesis of RNA hepatitis viruses (particulary Hepatitis A and Hepatitis C). Jenny Ting, PhD, a pre-eminent immunologist and Director of UNC’s Center for Translational Immunology, leads several NIH-funded Cooperative Research Centers that focus on vaccine development for viral infections and immunologic response and pathogenesis in viral infections.

Active Research Sites