Infectious Disease Research

Researchers at CHOC Research Institute serve as principal investigators for several clinical research studies, providing patients with access to the newest treatment options available. Recent studies have focused on the development of vaccines, antiviral medications, and anti-fungal treatment options for common and serious infections.

CHOC physician researchers are also members of the NIH-sponsored Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trial Group.

Two smiling girls sitting in a wagon

Infectious Disease Research With Global Implications

Pneumococcal disease

Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by a bacterium known as pneumococcus. Pneumococcal infections can range from ear and sinus infections to complicated pneumonia, bloodstream infections and meningitis. This disease affects millions worldwide, with the majority of deaths occurring in developing countries including sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Dr. Arrieta and his team at CHOC have focused a decade of research studying the effectiveness of two pneumococcal vaccines introduced in the United States and other developed countries. The ultimate goal is to make a stronger argument for the vaccine to be distributed throughout the world to save countless lives.

Dr. Arrieta presented his data on this vital subject at the Asia Pneumococcal Disease Conference in Seoul, Korea in May 2014, as well as at the European Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases (ESPID) meeting in Dublin, Ireland. In May 2015, his team presented the results of a five-year surveillance study in Orange County at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in San Diego.

Bacterial infection diagnosis

The second area of study was inspired by Dr. Arrieta’s role as a clinician. He was troubled by the fact that infants who came through the emergency room with suspected bacterial infections in the bloodstream had to undergo highly invasive tests including spinal taps to diagnose the problem and hospitalized for empiric antibiotic treatment. He conducted a pilot study showing that the inflammatory markers present in the urine of a child with a urinary tract infection are the same markers that are detected in the bloodstream of a child with a bloodstream infection – thus possibly eliminating the need for invasive diagnostic tests. His team is now looking for funds to launch a larger multicenter clinical trial to test this hypothesis.

Necrotizing entercolitis

Dr. Arrieta’s research interests include necrotizing entercolitis, a devastating intestinal disease of prematurity. Instead of waiting for it to develop in these premature infants, he is looking at ways to preemptively identify the inflammatory process associated with the disease and prevent the intestinal damage and mortality often seen with necrotizing enterocolitis– a goal that could change the course of these young lives.

Infectious Disease Research Training Program

UC Irvine and CHOC partner to offer a three-year fully ACGME-accredited pediatric infectious diseases fellowship training program. Research training and the completion of a research project related to pediatric infections is an important aspect of the fellowship. The fellowship core curriculum provides training in biostatistics, lab and clinical research methodology, study design, grant preparation, research ethics and Institutional Review Boards, evidence-based medicine and quality improvement.

Infectious Disease Clinical Trials at CHOC

Physician and mother looking at computer screen

Clinical trials involving real patients help doctors and researchers learn the effectiveness of a new drug or medical device, and lead to advancements with potential to improve thousands of lives.

At any time, CHOC staff doctors, nurses and others are involved in about 350 clinical trials in many specialties.