Jodie Dionne-Odom, M.D., assistant professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Division of Infectious Diseases and chief of Women's Health Services at UAB's 1917 Clinic, has been awarded a five-year, $841,000 K23 grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health.
The award will fund a randomized controlled phase II study to determine the efficacy and safety of a new antibiotic regimen to prevent malaria and other infections during pregnancy among women living with HIV in Cameroon.
Currently, more than 3 billion people are at risk of contracting malaria, and pregnant women with HIV in Africa are at heightened risk. In a resource-limited setting, Dionne-Odom's research will hopefully find an effective prophylaxis for these patients that will improve adverse birth outcomes, improve maternal health and combat the spread of malaria in vulnerable populations.
"Women in sub-Saharan Africa are at a very high risk of getting malaria and having complications of pregnancy as a result of infection, and malaria and HIV are leading causes of death in Cameroon," Dionne-Odom said. "We're hoping to identify a successful regimen to prevent common infections in this exposed population that will in turn improve pregnancy and birth outcomes, while helping other at-risk women across the world in the future."
When pregnant women are infected with malaria, a vector-borne disease transmitted through mosquito bites, they can suffer with fevers, malaise and anemia. The disease can also impact the infant, causing prematurity, low birth weight, congenital infection or even stillbirth.
The study, which is currently enrolling patients, will be conducted at two sites -; Mboppi Baptist Hospital in Douala, Cameroon, and Baptist Hospital in Mutengene, Cameroon. As the associate director of the UAB Cameroon Health Initiative (CHI-UAB) team, Dionne-Odom will be working in tandem with in-country experts from the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services and faculty members from the University of Buea for the duration of the study.
While Dionne-Odom is the lead investigator, an on-the-ground team in Cameroon working at four hospital facilities includes a project coordinator, four research nurses, two research assistants, a pharmacist, clinicians and administrators.
This malaria project is one of several ongoing CHI-UAB global research projects focusing on improving maternal and child health. The study will enroll 310 women over a two-year period. Dionne-Odom was recently awarded the 2018 UAB Pittman Scholar Award for Excellence in Research.