As a paediatrician, my research has always relied on the premise that there is no greater public health intervention than that which can reduce child mortality, particularly in poor contexts. To do these, I have worked in low and middle-income countries to understand and prevent malaria, yaws and other infectious diseases that most impact child survival. My work on P. falciparum malaria has contributed to better characterize the disease, and to assess treatment and prevention strategies, including vaccines (NEJM 2011) and new antimalarial drugs (PLoS Med 2011). I have studied the pathogenic potential of P. vivax, a malaria species wrongly believed to only cause “benign” episodes, but for which we have conclusively shown in Brazil, India or Papua New Guinea its potential to cause severe disease (BMC Med 2015). My work in yaws has substantially contributed to identify new therapeutic and preventive strategies for this neglected infection (Lancet 2012). For malaria and yaws, my research is contributing to develop and test the new paradigm of disease eradication, by assessing the impact of drugs to specifically interrupt their transmission (NEJM 2015).
Regarding other infectious diseases, I have investigated in Mozambique and Morocco the epidemiology, aetiology and clinical characteristics of pneumonia, diarrhea and neonatal sepsis, all major causes of premature mortality. Recognizing that in the poorest areas of the world diagnostic capacities are scarce, I have studied host biomarkers as a tool to reliably differentiate viral from bacterial conditions, and thus better target antibiotic treatment (Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2015). In the last years, my research has focused on improving the poor existing data on the causes of death in low-income countries, a fundamental barrier for better health care and policy. An important contribution has been the validation of a radically innovative minimally invasive autopsy (MIA) sampling protocol (Lancet GH 2012, PLoS Med 2016).
Key wordsChild mortality, Cause of death, Paediatric infections, Pneumonia, Malaria, Eradication, Yaws