Role of the virome in environmental enteropathy

In collaboration with Dr. Mark Manary we are trying to answer, “What is the role of viruses in environmental enteropathy?”. Environmental enteropathy is estimated to affect >75% of the developing world’s children, and its impact is substantial. This disorder increases intestinal permeability, which in turn causes nutrient malabsorption and stunting.  Through Dr. Manary’s work in Malawi we are studying children with and without environmental enteropathy.

Defining the neonatal virome

Our goal is to learn if we have stool virome, when does it develop, and how does it change over time.  In collaboration with Drs. Phillip Tarr, Barb Warner, and David Wang, we will be studying the stool virome of healthy twins from birth to age 2. 

Search for novel viruses in pediatric acute liver failure

Pediatric acute liver failure (PALF) is a life threatening disorder in which previously healthy children become critically ill secondary to rapid loss of hepatic function.  The ongoing, multi-center, NIH-funded PALF Study Group was started in 1999 with the goal of studying the etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of acute liver failure in children. Strikingly, approximately 50% of the subjects in the PALF cohort have no final specific etiologic diagnosis (“indeterminate”) for their hepatic failure. It is likely that unrecognized viral infection may play a critical role in the etiology of liver failure in at least some of these subjects.  Our goal is to define the spectrum of viruses, both known and novel, present in the indeterminate cases. Any such viruses detected would be potential candidate etiologic agents of PALF.  This project is a collaborative effort with Drs. David Wang (Washington University) and Robert Squires (University of Pittsburgh).  

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