Helen Y. Chu, MD MPH, Assistant Professor in the Division of Allergy & Infectious Diseases at the University of Washington,
is this year's recipient of the Pfizer Young Investigator Award in
Vaccine Development. The award provides funding for research in vaccine
development, either through clinical or laboratory investigation, to a
candidate who demonstrates a commitment to a career in vaccinology.
Dr. Chu received her MD in 2005 from Duke University School of Medicine, where she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study HIV epidemiology in Tanzania under the mentorship of Dr. John Bartlett. She completed her residency in internal medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, and her fellowship in infectious diseases at the University of Washington where she performed research with Dr. Janet A. Englund and was awarded a NIH K23 award.
Dr. Chu's research is focused on defining the diagnosis, prevention and treatment strategies for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, and other respiratory viruses. RSV is the most important cause of viral pneumonia in infants worldwide, for which no vaccine or effective treatment is currently available. Dr. Chu is developing neutralizing antibody assays to analyze serum and breast milk and evaluating the role of humoral and cellular immunity in protection against respiratory viruses in pregnant women and infants. Dr. Chu has additionally developed sequencing techniques to identify patterns of viral transmission in nosocomial and community-based settings. Finally, she is evaluating the performance of novel respiratory virus vaccines in clinical trials in pregnant women and infants. Using these techniques, she has previously described transmission patterns of RSV, rhinovirus, and human metapneumovirus, the epidemiology and adverse birth outcomes associated with respiratory viral pneumonia in pregnant women, and the kinetics of transplacental RSV antibody transfer and decay in infants. She has collaborated with investigators at Johns Hopkins University, Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Seattle Children's Hospital, Centers for Disease Control-Arctic Investigations Program, University of Rochester, and the Nepal Nutrition Intervention Site-Sarlahi to perform these studies.
The goal of Dr. Chu's research is to fully characterize the immunologic and virologic correlates of protection against respiratory viral disease in diverse populations in Nepal, Bangladesh, Alaska, and Seattle, WA. These data are needed to guide the development of efficacious vaccines and guide implementation policy in industrialized and developing countries.
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