Research on Endemic, Neglected, Emerging and Re-emerging infections (ENERI)

Head of Programme: 

Vision and goal:
The ENERI vision is to foster and facilitate infectious disease research relevant to sub-Saharan Africa in areas where we are well equipped to serve, with the goal of contributing to infectious disease prevention and control.

Strategy:
The research activities under the ENERI Theme will be under two main Programmes (Immunomodulation and Vaccines (I-Vac) and Pathogen Genomics, Phenotype and Immunity Pathogen-GPI) but will also support work in emerging areas not yet established as full programmes, indicated in the following listing with a star (*). We will address the following.
1. Biological and genetic factors affecting vaccine efficacy – an area of cross-cutting importance for vaccine efficacy in SSA
a. The role of prior and concurrent infection exposure in immunomodulation and vaccine immunogenicity
2. Immunity to tuberculosis
a. A new regimen for TB re-vaccination in adolescence
b. *The role of antibody and B cells in the immune response to tuberculosis – a topic in which we have taken a new lead17,18
3. Schistosomiasis and soil transmitted helminths
a. Immunomodulation and impact on susceptibility to oncogenic viruses with the HIV and Cancer Epidemiology Programme)
b. *Approaches to schistosomiasis control, contributing current data to modelling of the impact of intensive anthelminthic treatment in collaboration with Charles King and colleagues, Case Western Reserve
University19 and developing funding applications to test new intervention strategies in collaboration with the Lake Victoria Consortium for Health Research, supported by the Social Aspects of Health
Programme.
4. Emerging and re-emerging viral infections
a. *The epidemiology of Zika Virus infection in Uganda, addressing the observation that ZIKV-disease appears to have had negligible health impact in Uganda, contrasting with outbreaks in Asia and South
America,13 recently funded through an MRC/Wellcome Trust/Newton Fund Zika Rapid Response Award.
b. *A phase I trial of Rift Valley Fever, recently funded, in collaboration with George Warimwe, Jenner Institute.
c. * A randomised, observer-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2 study to evaluate the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of three prime-boost regimens of the candidate prophylactic vaccines for Ebola
Ad26.ZEBOV and MVA-BN-Filo in healthy adults, including elderly subjects, HIV-infected subjects, and healthy children in three age strata in Africa, already in progress, and funded by the European Union
under the Innovative Medicines Initiative-2.
5. Invasive bacterial pathogens
a. *Studies on the impact of HIV on protective immunity to invasive non-typhoidal Salmonella, key information required for the development of effective vaccines against this condition for people with HIV20 –
for which we have supported a senior fellowship funding application submitted by Calman MacLennan, Jenner Institute
6. Drug resistance
a. Microbiological and molecular studies on antimicrobial resistance

Summary: Taken together, ENERI addresses endemic, neglected, emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases of importance in Uganda, and globally. Linking narratives are the quest for effective vaccines, and the role of molecular epidemiology in understanding disease patterns, pathogenesis and drug resistance. The Unit’s setting, expertise and infrastructure mean that it is poised to make significant contributions in these areas during the coming quinquennium.