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Dr. Eric Meissner Research lab

Research

The Division of Infectious Diseases (ID) faculty and fellows, and collaborative colleagues from other Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) specialties provide leadership for a broad array of clinical and translational research activities. Ongoing laboratory research, clinical trials, epidemiology and outcomes studies, and quality assurance projects are funded through a variety of mechanisms, including competitive grants and contracts with NIH, DHHS/HRSA, CDC, state and local health departments, pharmaceutical corporations and biotechnology companies. These research and academic endeavors are a key part of our mission to provide patients access to the most promising cutting-edge diagnostics and therapies, while creating invaluable educational opportunities for Infectious Diseases fellows and other trainees.

Supported in partnership with University hospital, this group works on practical protocols to ensure optimal utilization of antimicrobials in clinical care, cost-effective decision-making, and the avoidance of drug resistance and adverse events. (John Gnann Jr., M.D.; Amanda Parks, M.D.)

Developing diagnostic and treatment strategies for a variety of viral pathogens, including influenza and other respiratory viruses, herpes viruses (HSV, VZV, CMV), West Nile and other encephalitis viruses, BK and JC virus. (John Gnann Jr., M.D.)

MUSC participates in a number of multicenter clinical trials evaluating novel strategies for the treatment of HIV and AIDS. Active research protocols include convenient single-tablet regimens (STRs), integrase inhibitors, potential long-acting antiviral agents, and studies specifically designed for women and for patients with renal impairment. (Eric Meissner, M.D., Ph.D.John Gnann Jr., M.D.Allison Eckard, M.D.Stephanie Kirk, Pharm.D.)

The ID Division collaborates with the Department of Orthopedics on studies related to the prevention and management of prosthetic joint infections, including evaluations of novel oral antibiotic agents in this setting. (Camelia Marculescu, M.D.)

MUSC is involved in laboratory investigations of novel biomarkers and diagnostic testing for cryptococcus, candida, and other fungal infections. Clinical trials of new agents for invasive fungal infections in immunocompromised hosts, including aspergillosis, are underway. (Terry Dixon, M.D., Ph.D.)

The ID Division conducts clinical trials and outcomes studies for viral hepatitis. Our group pursues translational research related to treatment and immune control of Hepatitis C. (Eric Meissner, M.D., Ph.D.)

The ID Division investigates interactions between HIV and co-morbidities such as smoking, malignancies, neuropathy, and metabolic diseases.  (Allison Eckard, M.D.)

Investigations of HIV/AIDS epidemiology unique to the Deep South region are in progress, including linkage and retention in care, comparisons of clinical outcomes based on age, gender, race, socioeconomic conditions, and STD co-infections including syphilis. The ID Division conducts a special HRSA-funded multidisciplinary program to help transition HIV-infected youth from Pediatrics to Internal Medicine clinics. (Cassandra Salgado, M.D.; Jeffrey Korte, Ph.D.; Eric Meissner, M.D.,Ph.D.; Allison Eckard, M.D.; Julia Westerink, M.D.; Sandra Fowler, M.D.; Stephanie Kirk, Pharm.D.)

The NIAID-funded immuno-pathogenesis program at MUSC is actively involved in understanding innate immunity, microbial translocation, Toll-like receptors, vaccine responsiveness, and gender and age differences in chronic infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases. A bio-repository protocol preserves plasma and cells from HIV “elite controllers” and “disease progressors” for ongoing immunologic and virologic studies in collaboration with other departments and institutions. (Wei Jiang, M.D.; Eric Meissner, M.D., Ph.D.; Julia Westerink, M.D.)

MUSC partners with the Emergency Medicine department at MUSC in a CDC-funded project to offer opt-out HIV testing and counseling for all emergency room patients, to assist with direct linkage to and retention in appropriate HIV care, and to understand barriers to HIV testing and education. The ID Division and the hospital clinical laboratories collaborate with Harvard and University of Washington in a CDC-supported project to compare 3rd and 4th generation HIV serologic tests in clinical practice. (Rick Nolte, M.D., Ph.D.; Cassandra Salgado, M.D.; Eric Meissner, M.D., Ph.D.; Valerie Assey)

One-third of the MUSC HIV cohort is female, predominantly African American women who have acquired infection via heterosexual transmission. South Carolina has one of the highest HIV incidence rates among women in the United States. MUSC investigators are involved in studies to improve understanding of the epidemiology and treatment of HIV-infected women. The ID Division collaborates closely with the Reproductive ID Division in OB/GYN and Microbiology/Immunology investigators to study the diagnosis, management, pathogenesis, and treatment of HIV and concurrent sexually transmitted diseases. (Gweneth Lazenby, M.D.; David Soper, M.D.; Wei Jiang, M.D.; Cassandra Salgado, M.D.)

The ID Division provides leadership for the recently launched MUSC Center for Global Health, which provides pilot grants and support for a variety of international projects related to Infectious Diseases. The medical school sponsors an annual medical mission trip to Haiti and other collaborations are underway relating to TB and HIV care in Africa. The ID Division provides tropical medicine, vaccine, and prophylaxis advice for investigators and travelers to international destinations from the University as well as from the surrounding community (Susan Dorman, M.D.; Amanda Parks, M.D.; Robert Ball, M.D.; Julia Westerink, M.D.; Jeffrey Korte, Ph.D.)

MUSC has interests in the diagnosis and management of tuberculosis both locally and around the world. The ID Division works in close collaboration with the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine in a multidisciplinary network to provide care for patients with atypical mycobacteria, such as pulmonary Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) which often occurs in otherwise normal hosts. Our faculty investigators are also actively involved in studies relating to actinomycosis, nocardiosis, and other unusual and difficult to treat micro-organisms. (Susan Dorman, M.D.; Patrick Flume, M.D.) 

The ID Division has a nationally-recognized Infection Control program, supported by the MUSC Hospital.  In addition to optimizing quality care and patient safety, this academic group has also provided national leadership on consensus guidelines panels and conducted multicenter trials for novel approaches to preventing nosocomial infections.  These include the first clinical trials to demonstrate the benefits of incorporating copper into hospital room environmental surfaces, innovative protocols for handwashing and bundling of peri-procedural routines, and decontamination/isolation protocols for MRSA and other pathogens. Additionally, MUSC is currently studying the epidemiologic history of Clostridium difficile infection and how this organism is transmitted within the hospital. (Cassandra Salgado, M.D.; Scott Curry, M.D.; Michael Schmidt, Ph.D.)

MUSC is one of the busiest solid organ transplant centers in the Southeast, performing over 250 heart, liver, lung, and kidney transplants annually. The ID Division provides a team of experts with research interests in the prevention and management of infectious complications of transplantation and cancer-related immunocompromising conditions. (Jessica Lewis, M.D.; John Gnann, M.D.Deeksha Jandhyala, M.D.)

The unique Vascular Access Program, supported in conjunction with the University hospital, and a cadre of ID-boarded physicians with special training in the placement of peripherally-inserted central catheters (PICC), provides unprecedented opportunities for research related to preventing and managing line-related infections and other complications such as deep vein thrombosis. This group also utilizes innovative simulation laboratory approaches to train other physicians, house staff and students to place central and PICC lines safely. (Robert Cantey, M.D.; Evgenia Kagan, M.D.)