Our Focus Areas
In order to study Ebola and Marburg viruses, we have gathered thousands of samples from across the DRC from survivors, vaccine recipients, healthcare workers, and others affected by DRC’s numerous outbreaks. Our work uses survey and biologic data to understand how hemorrhagic fever risk, behavior, and serology are intertwined in populations either during an outbreak or at risk for one. Recent notable studies from our group have looked at Ebola vaccine immunogenicity, risk behaviors during outbreaks, and zoonotic exposures.
We’ve conducted research on the prevalence and transmission risk of human monkeypox in the DRC for over a decade. We’ve recently been awarded a 5-year grant to continue our work on this reemerging infectious disease which will identify transmission chains and build capacity for monkeypox surveillance among local health bureaus.
In the US we are currently investigating monkeypox vaccine effectiveness and efficacy among patients of sexual health clinics in Southern California. This study is supported by the CDC and California Department of Public Health.
Our COVID-19 research explores the humoral responses to SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines and attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccines among frontline workers in Los Angeles, CA. In Kinshasa, DRC we conduct survey- and social media-based research on community exposures, knowledge, attitudes, and vaccine hesitancies to further inform local COVID-19 policies.
Our work on pharmacovigilance in the DRC aims to strengthen the global biologics safety net in the post-market environment. Our work focuses on prenatal vaccination and adverse birth outcomes across 10 hospitals in the Kinshasa area. Through this work we’ve been able to estimate maternal vaccination rates, characterize adverse events in the prenatal and postnatal periods, and provide insights for improvement of maternal vaccination programs, data capture and communication systems.
Emerging Disease Surveillance
Novel disease emergence can happen anywhere at anytime, and often occurs in highly biodiverse areas where humans and animals intermix. Our years of experience working in difficult to reach areas of central Africa has positioned us uniquely to design and execute epidemiologic surveillance of emerging infectious threats, utilizing shoe leather epidemiology in concert with new modalities like settlement mapping. We have experience working on widespread emerging diseases like COVID-19 and Monkeypox, but also other neglected tropical diseases like trypanosomiasis and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever.
Polio and other Vaccine Preventable Diseases
Since 2014, we’ve conducted large poliovirus serologic surveillance studies across the DRC. Our work on polio supports local vaccine policy, and in the wake of sustained circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus outbreaks, has contributed crucial information regarding the polio vaccine landscape in the hardest to reach areas of DRC. Beyond polio we’ve worked with the Congolese Ministry of Health to support a national serologic survey to assess vaccination. This key information has been included in the Congolese Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program and is available publicly.
While we work on critical epidemiologic research projects across the DRC our secondary public health aim is to build capacity for public health investigation and control among Congolese national and local jurisdictions. In collaboration with the DRC’s Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale, the Kinshasa School of Public Health, and the Expanded Program on Immunization, we’ve worked to provide training and hands-on opportunities in public health research for Congolese scientists.