Awarded Global Innovation Challenge Grants
Principal Investigator: Lifang Hou and Mamoudou Maiga
Co-Investigator(s): Supriya Mehta, co-I, Rush Univ. Charles Wood, co-I, LSU Jane Holl, co-I, UoC Robert Murphy, co-I, NU Chad Achenbach, co-I, NU Jian-Jun Wei, co-I, NU Imran Morhason-Bello, UI/Nigeria Jonah Musa, co-I, Univ. of Jos/Nigeria Brehima Diakite, co-I, USTTB/Mali Moussa Seydi, UCAD/Senegal Mamadou S Sow, Univ. of Conakry/Guinea Julius Mwaiselage, UDSM/Tanzania Fredrick Otieno, NRHS/Kenya
Partnered Institutions: USA: Rush Unv, LSU, UoC; Nigeria: UI & JOS; Mali: USTTB; Guinea: UC; Tanzania: UDSM; Kenya: NRHS
Principal Investigator: Lisa Hirschhorn
Co-Investigator(s): Alemayehu Amberbir
Partnered Institutions: Rwanda: University of Global Health Equity, Rwanda
Chronic Hepatitis B (CHB) infects over 60 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and is responsible for abou t200,000 deaths per year mostly from liver cirrhosis, liver failure and cancer. HIV is also very common in SSA, present in over 25 million. Because of similar routes of transmission, around 10% of persons with HIV in SSA are living with CHB. HIV has been shown to significantly accelerate the risk of liver complications in persons with CHB, even among those well controlled on HBV-active antiretroviral therapies. In 2016, the WHO Global Health Sector Strategy (GHSS) on Viral Hepatitis called for a reduction of HBV incidence by 90% and mortality by 65% by 2030 through a number of program interventions such as hepatitis B infant and birth dose vaccination, blood and injection safety and harm reduction, as well as HBV testing and treatment. To date, the hepatitis response in SSA has significantly lagged behind other all other regions reaching these targets. Crucially, there is a dearth of local data on CHB that can help inform best practices in the diagnosis, care and treatment of persons with HBV and HIV-HBV which is significantly hindering progress towards HBV elimination. In addition, persons with CHB with and without HIV in this region remain incompletely characterized which is a significant barrier to participation in clinical trials, particularly those investigating novel curative agents where persons in SSA stand to gain the most benefit. To address some of these critical gaps in CHB research in SSA and be well poised to contribute to future CHB therapeutic trials, we propose to establish a multisite African HBV and HIV-HBV Clinical Research Network that will enable cutting edge research to be conducted to help improve health outcomes and optimize hepatitis care and treatment in these and other high prevalence settings. This innovation award will support the development of this network and three key deliverables including: i.) implementation of two longitudinal research cohorts of adult HBV and HBV-HIV co-infected participants at each network site; ii) development of a biobank of biospecimens collected on research participants at regularly defined intervals; and iii) creation of a comprehensive dataset of well characterized HBV and HIV-HBV populations providing high-quality preliminary data for future CHB studies and clinical trials. Pooling our expertise and resources to undertake collaborative studies will address some of the critical gaps in HBV prevention and care in low and middle income countries that are preventing progress towards HBV elimination, providing locally and globally relevant and policy changing data on many aspects of HBV patient management.
Principal Investigator: Claudia Hawkins
SARS-CoV-2 Transmission & Policy: Using active surveillance with bench science to inform what works, what doesn't, and what's promising?South America (Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia), Sub-Saharan Africa (Tanzania, Mali, Nigeria), and South Asia (India), Fall 2022
The SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to mutate into new variants, which pose a global threat to public health. Because new variants can quickly shift the course of the pandemic, public health leaders often rely on incomplete, delayed data when tasked with critical policy decisions. This project will create an enhanced active surveillance system for researchers around the world to consult. Our interdisciplinary team of experts across surveillance systems, epidemiology, informatics, evaluation methods, engineering, infectious disease, genomics, molecular biology, and econometrics will use the enhanced system to provide immediate answers to key policy questions as new developments in the SARS-CoV-2 virus alter the trajectory of the pandemic. Our long-term goal is to inform effective public health policy on the resolution of this and future public health crises.
Our objective in this proposal is to create and disseminate interdisciplinary research on effective policy at the population level through global partnerships. We will accomplish this objective in two specific aims: (1) To identify shifts and the evolution of the pandemic, at any geographical level and timeframe, using disease modeling, transmission, and expansion metrics of SARS-CoV-2 and its VOI/VOCs. (2) To conduct policy relevant research on SARS-CoV-2 in response to new developments in the pandemic, by using difference-in-differences and dynamic panel estimators. These advanced statistical methods allow us to test policy and effectiveness of vaccinations, quarantines, and various mitigation strategies such as masking, remote work, and learning. We will also conduct a simulation study to quantify the potential benefits of our systematic, ongoing disease models as compared to traditional surveillance metrics. Our system of surveillance, modeling, and projections will have a high impact at the global level. To disseminate our work, we have secured partnerships with the media, Northwestern Alumnae, the United Nations, USAID, USAID missions and countries globally, WHO, CDC, and our global network of universities.
Principal Investigator: Alexander Lundberg, MS, PhD
Co-Investigator: Lori Ann Post, PhD
Partnered Institutions: All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India; Center for Pathogen Genomics and Microbial Evolution (CPGME)
Since its emergence in 2019, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of COVID-19, has infected hundreds of millions of people in a global pandemic. To define and monitor the effects of variants of concerns (VOCs), researchers and public health experts around the globe rely on genomic surveillance. A lack of timely genomic surveillance information has resulted in an unclear picture of the origin, severity, and transmissibility of VOCs among different global populations. The need for improved genomic surveillance is most acute in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), which often lack the resources and expertise to track the emergence and spread of clinically relevant SARSCoV-2 variants. Most countries in South America are notably underrepresented in global genomic surveillance efforts, with just 2.3% of all SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences in the GISAID global database originating from the continent. Improving genomic surveillance capacity in LMICs is critical to the early detection of and response to emerging variants.
Here, we propose to establish and enrich strategic foundational partnerships in three cities in South America (Lima and Iquitos in Peru and Santa Cruz in Bolivia) to fill critical gaps in global SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance infrastructure and build local capacity for pathogen genomics. This will be accomplished in 4 stages: (i) establishment of collaborative ties and an administrative framework across partner institutions; (ii) remote provision of SARS-CoV-2 surveillance capacity through whole-genome sequencing at Northwestern University as well as in Lima, Peru for immediate dissemination and reporting; (iii) local establishment of SOPs for clinical data collection and specimen biobanking; and (iv) provision of consultation and training towards capacity building with the goal of joint funding. The proposed project will establish a network of collaborations in undersurveillanced countries and regions in South America to contribute to local and global COVID-19 research and build capacity for local genomic surveillance.
Principal Investigator: Egon Ozer, MD, PhD
Co-Investigators: Judd F. Hultquist, PhD & Ramon Lorenzo-Redondo, PhD
Partnered Institutions: Centro de Investigaciones Tecnológicas Biomédicas y Medioambientales (CITBM) at the National University of San Marcos in Peru, Iquitos that is dedicated to clinical scientific research, La Asociación Civil Selva Amazónica (ACSA, the Amazon Forest Civil Association), and Human Health Sciences as the Universidad Autónoma Gabriel René Moreno (UAGRM)