Maternal and Pediatric Infectious Disease Branch (MPIDB)

HIV infection under microscopeOverview/Mission

MPIDB supports domestic and international research, as well as research training and career development programs related to the epidemiology, diagnosis, clinical manifestations, pathogenesis, transmission, treatment, and prevention of HIV and its complications in infants, children, adolescents, and pregnant and nonpregnant women. As the HIV epidemic has evolved and other infectious diseases have emerged in the United States and globally, the branch has ensured that its funded research reflects these changes and addresses important opportunities and gaps as they arise, including HIV-associated co-infections such as tuberculosis (TB), hepatitis, and malaria.

To meet the needs and ongoing challenges of other significant infectious diseases, MPIDB coordinates research on the epidemiology, natural history, pathogenesis, transmission, treatment, and prevention of congenital infections, such as Zika virus and cytomegalovirus; emerging infectious diseases, such as COVID-19; and vaccine-preventable disease in infants, children, adolescents, and women.

We are interested in applications that align with the following research priorities. For more information about NICHD’s research themes, cross-cutting topics, and aspirational goals, visit the plan’s Scientific Research Themes and Objectives.

Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases

Strategic Plan Theme 3: Setting the Foundation for Healthy Pregnancies and Lifelong Wellness
Strategic Plan Theme 4: Improving Child and Adolescent Health and the Transition to Adulthood
Strategic Plan Cross-Cutting Topics: Disease Prevention, Global Health, Health Disparities, Infectious Disease

Gap: Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases are ongoing threats and often have a disparate impact on pregnant women, infants, children, and adolescents. Critical knowledge gaps remain in the understanding of the pathogenesis of infections as they evolve and emerge in these populations, presenting opportunities to advance public health efforts around prevention and treatment in maternal and child health.

Priority: Research on emerging (e.g., COVID-19) and re-emerging infectious diseases that affect pregnant women, infants, children, and adolescents, including their impact on the pediatric nervous system and on reproductive and overall health, to advance safe and effective treatments.

HIV: Adolescent Prevention

Strategic Plan Theme 4: Improving Child and Adolescent Health and the Transition to Adulthood
Strategic Plan Cross-Cutting Topics: Disease Prevention, Global Health, Health Disparities, Infectious Disease

Gap: Young people are disproportionately affected by HIV globally. While effective biomedical modalities to prevent HIV infection in adults now exist, more research is needed involving adolescents, with consideration of biological, psychological, social, and developmental health transitions.

Priority: Research on ways to increase the use of multilevel interventions to improve health and prevent HIV (e.g., feasible, acceptable, safe, and scalable strategies to increase uptake of and adherence to HIV prevention modalities) and other sexually transmitted infections in adolescents and young adults, including linkage to and engagement in healthcare and improvement in the transition to adult healthcare.

HIV and HIV Co-Infections: Adverse Pregnancy, Maternal, and Infant Outcomes Related to Prevention or Treatment

Strategic Plan Theme 3: Setting the Foundation for Healthy Pregnancies and Lifelong Wellness
Strategic Plan Theme 4: Improving Child and Adolescent Health and the Transition to Adulthood
Strategic Plan Cross-Cutting Topics: Disease Prevention, Global Health, Health Disparities, Infectious Disease

Gap: With widespread use of lifelong antiretroviral therapy and newer agents for prevention and treatment of HIV and its co-infections, more women are conceiving while on therapy. Concerns persist that use of antiretroviral medications and other therapeutics may increase adverse pregnancy, maternal, and infant outcomes (e.g., preterm birth).

Priority: Research to identify and investigate causes of adverse pregnancy and infant outcomes that may be associated with antiretroviral therapy in pregnancy to improve understanding of how such exposures contribute to maternal morbidity and mortality, stillbirth, preterm birth, and the long-term health of women and their children.

HIV: Cure/Remission in Infants and Children

Strategic Plan Theme 4: Improving Child and Adolescent Health and the Transition to Adulthood
Strategic Plan Theme 5: Advancing Safe and Effective Therapeutics and Devices for Pregnant and Lactating Women, Children, and People with Disabilities
Strategic Plan Cross-Cutting Topics: Disease Prevention, Global Health, Health Disparities, Infectious Disease

Gap: HIV cure strategies may be different for infants and children than adults. To identify potential new treatment approaches for infants and children, there is a critical need for innovative investigations in humans, the study of existing biospecimens and data, and the development and study of a diverse set of model organisms and other systems to enhance our understanding of HIV cure and remission.

Priority: Study and characterize HIV latency, reservoirs, and persistence and pursue potential strategies, including vaccine- and other immune-based therapy research, for HIV cure/remission in infants and children.

Immune Crosstalk in Infant Immune System Development

Strategic Plan Theme 1: Understanding the Molecular, Cellular, and Structural Basis of Development
Strategic Plan Theme 2: Promoting Gynecologic, Andrologic, and Reproductive Health
Strategic Plan Cross-Cutting Topics: Infectious Disease, Nutrition

Gap: Infectious pathogens and other cellular and noncellular elements may influence immune crosstalk in pregnant women and their fetuses, thus affecting development of infant and childhood immunity.

Priority: Support basic science and translational research to understand immune crosstalk in pregnant women, placenta, and fetus, including the contributions of microbiome/virome, nutritional status, and host-pathogen interactions on the development of the infant immune system into childhood.

Congruent with MPIDB’s mission, a number of research programs and networks are supported to improve health outcomes among our populations of interest. Two major priorities for the clinical research networks are: 1) HIV (and TB) therapeutics in infants, children, adolescents, and pregnant women; and 2) epidemiologic research in individuals living with HIV or at risk for HIV, including infants, children, adolescents, and young adults who were exposed to HIV in utero.

  • Sonia Lee, Acting Branch Chief
    Main Research Areas: Adolescent HIV; neurodevelopment and assessment; behavioral science, including HIV acquisition and HIV exposure in infants, children, and adolescents; programs and networks
  • Denise Russo, Deputy Branch Chief
    Main Research Areas: HIV in women; infant immunity
  • Samantha Calabrese, Public Health Analyst
    Main Research Areas: Portfolio analysis methodology; epidemiology; Zika
  • Bill Kapogiannis, Medical Officer
    Main Research Areas: Adolescent HIV prevention and treatment; youth HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis; youth HIV care continuum; HIV vaccines; emerging infectious diseases; adult and pediatric infectious diseases
  • Eric Lorenzo, Health Scientist Administrator
    Main Research Areas: HIV cure; HIV persistence/latency and reservoirs
  • Sai Majji, Program Officer
    Main Research Areas: Vaccines, immune-prophylactics, and therapeutics research in HIV, TB, and malaria infections in infants, children, adolescents, and pregnant and non-pregnant women; regulatory affairs and clinical trial monitoring and data management
  • Jack Moye, Medical Officer
    Main Research Areas: Laboratory quality assurance; biospecimen repository management; virology and immunology research; epidemiologic cohort studies and clinical trials
  • Ayanna Brummell, Extramural Scientific Assistant

Highlights

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