Dr Chikondi Peno passed her viva!
Congratulations to MPRU (ex-)PhD student Chikondi Peno for passing her viva! Dr Peno successfully defended her thesis on 23rd August 2022. Chikondi's thesis project was on the respiratory microbiome, in particular the changes to the microbiome in response to maternal pneumococcal vaccination and live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) adminstration in children.
Streptococcus pneumoniae, a common member of the respiratory microbiome in young children, is also a pathobiont that can cause a variety of invasive diseases (meningitis, bacteremia) and non-invasive diseases (otitis media, pneumonia). High pneumococcal carriage rates and viral coinfection is associated with increased risk of invasive pneumococcal disease. Part of Chikondi's PhD work, published in Lancet Microbe, demonstrate that LAIV administration in a high pneumococcal carriage burden area is safe and did not increase pneumococcal carriage beyond what is typically seen with asymptomatic viral infections.
Chikondi is now a postdoctoral associate in the Weinberger/Wyllie Lab at Yale School of Public Health, in the department of epidemiology of microbial diseases. Her postdoctoral work focuses on the community transmission of respiratory pathogens. Chikondi is also working on developing and optimizing detection of pathogens and antibodies in saliva samples as part of the SalivaDirectTM team. We look forward to more important epidemiological discoveries from Chikondi!