New Initiative to Tackle Leading Killer of
By Tim Parsons
Bloomberg School of Public
The Johns Hopkins
Bloomberg School of Public Health has received three
grants from the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation totaling more than $43 million to
be used to help understand the causes of
pneumonia, which go unidentified in up to one-third of
patients. Pneumonia kills more children than any
other illness. Scaling up proven and available
interventions, such as pneumococcal vaccines and
antibiotic treatments, could prevent many pneumonia deaths.
Research to fully understand the causes
of pneumonia in the remaining cases could help develop the
tools to prevent even more.
The core initiative at Johns Hopkins, called the
Pneumonia Etiology Research for Child Health,
or PERCH, aims to build a new, rigorous evidence base by
studying the causes of pediatric pneumonia in
five to 10 countries across the developing world using
"Our current information on pneumonia etiology is
about to become obsolete," said Orin Levine,
associate professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of
International Health and principal
investigator of the project. "Most existing information was
generated 10 to 20 years ago with
laboratory techniques that hadn't changed vastly since
Louis Pasteur's time. By applying modern tools
with standardized methods, we will be able to provide new,
precise information to guide the
development of new vaccines and treatments."
Two additional Johns Hopkins studies will strengthen
the initiative's fight against pneumonia and
related diseases. Hope Johnson, a research associate in the
school's Center for Accelerated Vaccine
Access, will project the burden of disease in adolescents
and adults attributable to two dangerous
bacteria — the pneumococcus and the meningococcus
— that together cause many cases of pneumonia
and other life-threatening illnesses such as meningitis.
Jennifer Moisi, an assistant scientist in the
Center for Accelerated Vaccine Access, will undertake an
evaluation of diagnostic methods for
pneumococcal disease, a major cause of childhood pneumonia,
particularly in the developing world.
Together these projects will influence the development and
deployment of lifesaving vaccines
throughout the world.
The pneumonia initiative, based at the Bloomberg
School's Department of International Health,
follows on the heels of the successful school-based
PneumoADIP project, which accelerated access to
childhood pneumococcal vaccines for the developing world by
nearly 10 years. Through the new
initiative, the Johns Hopkins group continues to advance
protection for all children against pneumonia.
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