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IDSA Education and Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Award in Infectious Diseases

Current Award Winner

Patrick George Cudahy 

Patrick Cudahy, MD, is this year's recipient of the IDSA Education and Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Award in Infectious Diseases. Dr. Cudahy is an infectious disease fellow at Yale University with a research interest in HIV and tuberculosis co-infection. While spending a year of medical school in South Africa at a large district hospital with a heavy burden of both tuberculosis and HIV, he first became interested in infectious disease research. He went on to receive his MD in 2010 from the Medical College of Wisconsin. His internship and residency training were at Stanford University Medical Center. Afterwards, he spent a year as a hospitalist physician at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration before starting a fellowship in infectious disease at Yale-New Haven Hospital in 2014.

During his fellowship he joined the lab of Dr. Ted Cohen to study interventions to improve tuberculosis care in resource limited settings. Dr. Cudahy’s research is focused on individuals who are co-infected with HIV and multi drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) as they face an especially high risk of death in the first weeks of treatment. Finding ways to quickly identify people who are failing to respond to standardized MDR-TB treatment may lead to reductions in morbidity and mortality as well as prevent further spread of MDR-TB.

One potential cause of the high early mortality seen in MDR-TB in South Africa is the presence of multiple genetically different strains of M. tuberculosis within infected individuals. Preliminary work done in Dr. Cohen’s lab has shown multiple co-infecting strains of tuberculosis in autopsies of patients who died of tuberculosis in South Africa. This strain diversity may affect our ability to detect antibiotic resistance as tuberculosis recovered in sputum culture may only reflect a single portion of a wider genetic population of tuberculosis in the host.

Dr. Cudahy will be following patients started on MDR-TB therapy in South Africa, using whole genome sequencing to look for evidence of multi-strain tuberculosis infection. Sequencing will be done both at the start of therapy and over time to see how different populations of M. tuberculosis respond to the selective pressure of treatment. Whole genome sequencing is a relatively new technology with improved sensitivity for detecting mixed strain infections over older strain typing techniques such as restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), spoligotyping or mycobacterial interspersed repetitive unit – variable number of tandem repeats (MIRU-VNTR). Using whole genome sequencing, Dr. Cudahy will investigate the potential link between multi-strain infections and patient outcomes.

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