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Scientist in the Lab

Gut Microbial and Metabolic Mediators of Rotavirus Vaccine Response 

The Rotavirus vaccine was developed to prevent severe diarrhea and is especially important in low- and middle-income countries where 85% of deaths due to Rotavirus occur.  Unfortunately, vaccine efficacy is lower in these countries compared to high-income countries.  This study evaluates infants from three countries with different socioeconomic levels using sophisticated methods to determine how specific bacteria and viruses in the infant gut (microbiome) may change the response to the vaccine. If successful, this study will have a significant impact on this important public health disparity as a targeted intervention to improve vaccine response that could save hundreds of thousands of lives every year.     

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 Dissection of Influenza Vaccination and Infection for Childhood Immunity

Influenza is a major public health threat worldwide, however, vaccine effectiveness is suboptimal and our current vaccine is strain specific, limiting effective control across multiple strains. This global study addresses the critical need to improve understanding of how the human B and T cell response is established after initial influenza virus infection or vaccination in infants and children and to identify correlates of protection from disease. To this end,

our consortium of world-renowned investigators is applying state-of-the-art immunological methods in the context of unique and established cohort studies in infants and children.

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 Household Exposure and Respiratory Transmission and Immunity of SARS-CoV-2

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in humans in late 2019 has led to its rapid spread worldwide. Greater understanding of the determinants of transmission, infection susceptibility, and disease severity are needed to better craft containment strategies, stratify risk for susceptible populations, and determine future preventive measures. This multi-national study will follow household members of all ages exposed to a close contact with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 to evaluate symptoms, shedding, transmission, and profile infection-induced early innate responses and serological, B cell, and cellular memory against SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Mucosal vs Systemic Influenza Vaccine While Breastfeeding:

Milk Immunity

Maternal immunization with influenza vaccine has the potential to protect infants less than six months of age, a vulnerable age group at risk for serious complications and death and for whom vaccine is not available. This study seeks to evaluate the immune response in breast milk following maternal immunization with the injected inactivated influenza vaccine compared to the nasal spray live attenuated influenza vaccine. The results will increase our understanding of how breast milk provides immune protection and will lay the foundation for larger clinical studies to determine efficacious maternal immunization strategies to best protecting infants.


NICHD 1 R01 HD100542-01

NIAID 1 U01 AI144616 - 01 

NIAID 3 U01 AI144616 - 02S1



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  1. Kordy K, Gaufin T, Mwangi M, Li F, Cerini C, Lee DJ, Adisetiyo H, Woodward C, Pannaraj PS, Tobin NH, Aldrovandi GM. Contributions to human breast milk microbiome and enteromammary transfer of Bifidobacterium breve. PLOS One PLoS One. 2020;15(1):e0219633. PMID: 31990909

  2. Mohandas S and Pannaraj PS. Beyond the bacterial microbiome: Virome of human milk and effects on the developing infant. Nestle Nutr Inst Workshop Ser 2020; 94:86-93. PMID: 32200373

  3. Thatrimontrichai A, Pannaraj PS, Janjindamai W, Dissaneevate S, Maneenil G, Apisarnthanarak A. Intervention to reduce carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii in a neonatal intensive care unit. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, 2020. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 32131902

  4. Anderson EJ, DeVincenzo JP, Simoes EAF, Krilov LR, Forbes ML, Pannaraj PS, Espinosa CM, Williver RC, Wolkoff LI, Yogev R, Checchia PA, Domachowske JB, Halasa N, McBride SJ, Kumar VR, McLaurin KK, Rizzo CP, Ambrose CS. SENTINEL1: Two-Season Study of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Hospitalizations among U.S. Infants Born at 29 to 35 Weeks’ Gestational Age Not Receiving Immunoprophylaxis. Am J Perinatol. 2020 Mar;37(4):421-429. PMID: 30991438

  5. Pokrzywinski RM, Swett LL, Pannaraj PS, Yi J, Pavilack MS, Kumar VR, McLaurin KK, Leidy NK. Impact of RSV-Confirmed Hospitalizations on Caregivers of US Preterm Infants. Clin Pediatrics 2019 Jul;58(8):837-850. PMID: 31007050

  6. Bender JM, Li F, Purswani H, Capretz T, Cerini C, Zabih S, Hung L, Francis N, Chin S,  Pannaraj PS & Aldrovandi GM. Early exposure to antibiotics in the neonatal intensive care unit alters the taxonomic and functional infant gut microbiome, J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med 2019. [Epub ahead of print].

  7. Chaudhari PP, Monuteaux MC, Pannaraj PS, Khemani RG, Bachur RG. Age-Stratified Risk of Critical Illness in Young Children Presenting to the Emergency Department with Influenza. J Pediatr 2019 Dec;215:132-138.e2. PMID: 31561954

  8. Ho N, Li F, Lee-Sarwar K, Tun H, Brown B, Pannaraj P, Bender J, Azad M, Thompson A, Weiss S, Azcarate-Peril MA, Litonjua A, Kozyrskyj A, Jaspan H, Aldrovandi G, Kuhn L. Meta-analysis of effects of exclusive breastfeeding on infant gut microbiota across populations. Nature Communications. 2018; 9(1):4169. PMID: 30301893

  9. Pannaraj PS, Ly M, Cerini C, Saavedra M, Aldrovandi GM, Saboory A, Johnson K, Pride DT. Shared and distinct features of human milk and infant stool viromes. Frontiers Microbiol. 2018; 9:1162. PMID: 29910789

  10. Pannaraj, PS, Li F, Cerini C, Bender J, Yang S, Rollie A, Adisetiyo H, Zabih S, Lincez PJ, Bittinger K, Bailey A, Bushman FD, Sleasman DJ, Aldrovandi GM. Association Between Breast Milk Bacterial Communities and Establishment and Development of the Infant Gut Microbiome. JAMA Pediatr. 2017; 171(7):647-654. PMID: 28492938

  11. Smit M*, Wang H, Barragan N, Kim E, Aldrovandi GM, Nelson El Amin A, Mascola L, Pannaraj PS. Influenza Vaccine is Protective Against Laboratory-Confirmed Influenza in Obese Children. Pediatr Infect Dis J, 2016 Apr;35(4):440-5. PMCID: PMC4788535

  12.  Cheung S*, Wang H, Mascola LM, Nelson El Amin A, Pannaraj PS. Parental perceptions and predictors of consent for school-located influenza vaccination in elementary school children. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses, 2015 Sep; 9(5):255-62. PMCID: PMC4548995

  13.  Pannaraj PS, Wang H, Rivas H, Wiryawan H, Smit M, Green N, Aldrovandi GM, Nelson El Amin A, Mascola L. School-located influenza vaccination decreases laboratory-confirmed influenza and improves school attendance. Clin Infect Dis, 2014 Aug; 59(3):325-32. PMID: 24829215

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