UNC – Nicaragua Pilot Research Grant Recipients 2014 -15

The UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases (IGHID) and the UNC Program in Nicaragua (UNC ProNica) are pleased to announce the award recipients for the Nicaraguan pilot research grants.

The Nicaragua pilot research grants are designed to support infectious diseases research and collaboration between UNC faculty and faculty from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, León (UNAN-León). Following a competitive application process, three diverse programs received awards of up to $10,000 each for one year of support in July 2014.

Award Recipients and Grant Overview

Natalie Bowman

Natalie Bowman


Risk factors for norovirus infection in Nicaraguan children

Recipients: Natalie Bowman (PI), Co-investigators: Joann Gruber (UNC), Filemon Bucardo (UNAN)

Grant Overview: Following the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine in Nicaragua, norovirus is now the most common cause of infectious diarrhea in Nicaraguan children. We propose to identify risk factors for norovirus infection in young children in León, Nicaragua. Currently, we do not understand the most important risk factors of norovirus infection in developing countries and by conducting this study we will collect preliminary data to understand key risk factors. Specifically, we will determine if there is a significant number of “mini outbreaks” within families to see if person-to-person contact within the household is a critical point of norovirus transmission in Nicaragua.


Mark Sobsey

Mark Sobsey


Evaluation of monitoring methods for surveillance of antimicrobial resistant Gram negative bacteria in water and wastewater sources of human exposure

Recipients: Mark Sobsey (PI), Co-investigators: Daniel Reyes (UNAN), Samuel Vilchez (UNAN)

Grant Overview: The purpose of this research is to determine the presence, concentrations and properties of species of antimicrobial resistant Gram-negative bacteria of health concern in wastewaters and ambient waters of León, Nicaragua, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. We will obtain water samples from multiple locations and analyze these samples quantitatively for ESBL and KPC Gram-negative enteric bacteria such as E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae. The properties of these bacteria will be compared to bacterial isolates in hospitalized patients.


Michael Emch

Michael Emch


Spatio-temporal dynamics and environmental risk factors of norovirus in León, Nicaragua

Recipients: Michael Emch (PI), Co-investigators: Carmen Cuthbertson (UNC), Filemon Bucardo (UNAN)

Grant Overview: A population-based sample of 826 children in León, Nicaragua, was followed over the course of one year for diarrhea episodes. We will describe the spatio-temporal distribution of norovirus diarrhea and identify environmental risk factors for norovirus using a geospatial approach. This study will enable us to better understand transmission dynamics of norovirus diarrhea in this Central American community.

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