September 29, 2020

MD PhD candidate receives NIH F30 funding for congenital cytomegalovirus transmission study

DHVI MD PhD candidate, Jennifer Jenks receives NIH F30 grant funding for her project, "Immune correlates of protection against nonprimary congenital cytomegalovirus transmission in an HIV-infected mother-infant cohort".

 Congenital CMV (CMV) infection is the most common infectious cause of infant brain damage in the world, resulting in hearing loss and developmental delays. A vaccine to prevent CMV acquisition or mother-to-infant in utero transmission would alleviate permanent neurologic disease in thousands of infants worldwide, but vaccine development remains hindered by our limited understanding of the immune responses that protect against congenital CMV (cCMV) transmission. Compared to women infected with CMV alone, women infected with both CMV and HIV transmit CMV to their infants at a 5 to 10-fold higher rate, suggesting impairment of CMV-specific maternal immune responses that protect against cCMV transmission. This project aims to identify the CMV-specific maternal humoral and cellular immune responses in HIV/CMV-coinfected women that will need to be enhanced to prevent mother-to-infant cCMV transmission, with the goal to identify novel targets for rational CMV vaccine design.

For this study, Ms. Jenks will serve as the Principal Investigator under sponsors Drs. Sallie Permar and Cliburn Chan.