Current Projects

Identification of pathogens in fish


Climate change and health


Phylogenetic analysis of SARS-Cov-2 in the Caribbean


Protective B-cell responses in Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) infection.
CHIKV has created a major public health impact in the Americas. CHIKV causes extensive human and economic damage, primarily due to acute fever and arthralgia and post-viral chronic joint pain/arthritis. Currently no licensed therapeutic treatments or vaccines exist for CHIKV. We are working with researchers at Blood Systems Research Institute in San Francisco to address the important public health threat posed by CHIKV by identifying lead candidate monoclonal antibodies for development into treatments capable of being used both prophylactically and therapeutically.


Zika virus (ZIKV) prevalence and outcomes. 
ZIKV, a mosquito-borne flavivirus, has recently emerged in the Americas. About 20% of infections result in Zika fever (a mild, self-limiting febrile illness). Serious and fatal outcomes are rarely observed but the virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus causing neurological complications and birth defects. This study aims to (i) characterise the ZIKV in circulation in Trinidad & Tobago, (ii) estimate ZIKV seroprevalence in pregnant women and in selected populations, and (iii) investigate adverse pregnancy outcomes in order to estimate risk and identify risk factors.


Characterisation of emerging viruses and protective immune responses against them in humans. 
Emerging viruses are have become increasingly more common in recent decades and this trend is expected to continue. Although there are viruses that appear to be on the threshold of emergence into new geographic regions, it is difficult to predict when and where each emergence will occur, and previously unknown viruses of animals that adapt to and emerge into human populations are impossible to predict. With each newly arrived virus there is need to rapidly characterise the virus and develop specific tests, vaccines or therapeutics. In particular sensitive and specific diagnostics tests are required since most viral infections initially present as acute undifferentiated fevers that are clinically indistinguishable, and a significant proportion may be asymptomatic. This requires knowledge of each virus’ genetic structure and an understanding of the human immune response to it. This study aims to detect and characterise emerging viruses associated with acute undifferentiated fevers in Trinidad and to characterise immune responses against them with a view to developing novel diagnostic tests, therapeutics and vaccines. Our current work, in collaboration with researchers at Blood Systems Research Institute in San Francisco, focuses on Chikungunya virus and Zika virus.


Comparative molecular genetic and phylogeographic analysis of Trinidad and mainland bat populations and their viruses. 
Bats are vectors and reservoirs for emerging zoonotic pathogens (e.g. Rabies, Ebola, Hendra) and several newly discovered viruses. We previously reported evidence of rabies importation into Trinidad from mainland South America and suggested this occurs via bats flying in from the mainland. We are using a molecular approach to investigate vampire bat movement patterns between Trinidad and the mainland and their role in dissemination of rabies and other viruses.


Identification of Culicoides midge species in Trinidad and surrounding regions, and determination of their spatiotemporal distribution and impact as vectors of arboviruses in both livestock and humans.


Viral diversity in Trinidad and Tobago bats.
In recent decades there has been an upsurge in so-called “emerging infectious diseases”. The majority is caused by viruses that have their origins in animal populations of which dengue virus, West Nile virus, severe acute respiratory sydrome (SARS) coronavirus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and avian influenza are well-known and important examples. Bats are of particular interest as reservoirs for potentially emergent pathogens because their abundance, wide distribution and mobility confer a greater risk of zoonotic transmission than other animals. They have long been known as the natural hosts for rabies virus and were more recently identified as the reservoirs for emerging viruses such as Ebola, Hendra and Nipah virus. Recent data also suggests that the progenitor of the SARS coronavirus, and all other coronaviruses in other animal hosts originated in bats. The primary aim of our study is to characterise viral diversity in Trinidad & Tobago bats and to investigate the origins, evolution and dispersal of selected viruses.


Epidemiology and risk factors for bloodstream infection at San Fernando General Hospital from 2010 to 2015.


Predictors of positive CSF cultures in patients with suspected meningitis at Port-of-Spain General Hospital and San Fernando General Hospital from 2010 to 2015.


Inpatient antibiotic usage at public hospitals in Trinidad and Tobago from 2010 to 2015.


Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus carrier rates among health care professionals in a non-outbreak setting at San Fernando General Hospital – Single center cross-sectional study.

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