Areas of Research Excellence

Outstanding opportunities are available for research - basic, translational, clinical, or epidemiologic - through the Division of Infectious Diseases, as well as collaborators at the Emory Vaccine Center, the Laney Graduate School, the Rollins School of Public Health, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Emory ID Division consistently garners more research funding than any other division in the Department of Medicine. Specific areas of excellence are described below:

HIV/AIDS

The Southeastern US, and particularly Atlanta, is the epicenter of the current HIV/AIDS epidemic in the US. At Emory, research to End the HIV Epidemic is a major focus across the university, with programs that are housed in the School of Medicine, the School of Public Health, the Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences  and the  Yerkes National Primate Center. The scope of research is broad. Areas of particular focus span the HIV research spectrum, from behavioral research, immunopathogenesis and cure research, basic virology, prevention sciences, clinical/translational treatment research, sex and gender differences, complications of aging, disparities and health systems research and implementation science. 

At the center of these efforts is the NIH-funded Centers for AIDS Research (CFAR), one of 19 nationwide. Over its 21-year history, the Emory CFAR has become the cornerstone of the University’s HIV research community and has brought Emory to world prominence as a center of excellence in HIV/AIDS research. The CFAR currently boasts >200 member-investigators, has successfully recruited talented HIV faculty to Emory, promoted the development of promising new and early stage HIV investigators, and provided value-added support to all CFAR members through Emory CFAR Core services. This has resulted in an exponential growth in total NIH AIDS grants awarded to Emory, from $8.2M in FY97 to over $68M in FY19.

In addition to robust investigator-initiated research, Emory participates in several clinical trial networks. The Emory-CDC HIV Clinical Trials Unit performs cutting edge human clinical trials for the NIH HIV research networks (the AIDS Clinical Trials Group, HIV Prevention Trials Network & HIV Vaccine Trials Network). The CTU brings together scientific experts from Emory and CDC and provides access to key populations at five clinical research sites (CRS): the Ponce de Leon Center and the Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta, the Kisumu CRS in Kenya, the Silom Community Clinic in Bangkok, Thailand,  and the De La Salle Health Science Institute Angelo King Medical Research Center near Manila, Philippines. Emory is also a site for the Women’s Interagency HIV Cohort Study (WIHS)/Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) networks. 

This broad portfolio gives the fellow interested in HIV/AIDS a rich experience in clinical care (with more than 10,000 persons with HIV cared for in our hospital systems), clinical, translational and basic science research and advocacy locally and regionally with opportunities for community involvement.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a major public health problem in Atlanta, an enormous global public health problem, and an important focus of clinical, epidemiological, and basic science research efforts in the ID Division and across Emory. Emory ID faculty serve as lead TB Medical Consultants to the Georgia Department of Public Health. The Emory TB Center (launched in 2020) brings together researchers from diverse schools at Emory engaged in multi-disciplinary TB-related research activities and aims to strengthen and expand expertise and opportunities in TB research, collaborations, teaching and service at Emory and around the world. Emory University is a member of several multi-institutional tuberculosis research networks, including the NIH/NIAID funded Tuberculosis Research Unit (TBRU) and the CDC funded Tuberculosis Epidemiologic Studies Consortium (TBESC-II). International TB research training is also an important focus, and Emory faculty have been lead investigators for the NIH Fogarty Center-supported Ethiopia-Emory and Emory-[country of] Georgia TB Research Training Programs.

Population Health and Surveillance

The proximity of Emory to CDC has led to the development of numerous collaborations between the ID Division and CDC investigators. The Georgia Emerging Infections Program (EIP) conducts population-based surveillance for infectious diseases occurring in the 20-county Atlanta metropolitan area. This project has provided critical data concerning the epidemiology of infections with Haemophilus influenzae, Listeria monocytogenes, Neisseria meningitidis, Group A streptococci, Group B streptococci, penicillin-resistant S. pneumoniae, vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), Cryptococcus neoformans, community acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a variety of food-borne diseases, and many other pathogens, and offers countless opportunities for additional research. The epidemiology of infections in patients with HIV/AIDS and prevention and care continuum research using a clinic level or community level population health lens  is studied intensively throughout the Emory system. Disparities in care is of broad interest at Emory and health systems research in HIV, transplantation, hepatitis C and other infectious diseases is ongoing. The intersection of opiate use/substance use disorder and infectious diseases is of growing interest as well. 

Antimicrobial Resistance, Stewardship, and Hospital Epidemiology

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing threat to public health and is a major focus of clinical, epidemiologic, and basic science research within and outside the ID Division. The Emory Antibiotic Resistance Center (ARC) (launched in 2015) is a multidisciplinary/ multi-institutional collaboration incorporating basic and translational science, epidemiology, and quality that brings together clinical and basic scientists to understand mechanisms of resistance and optimal use of existing antimicrobials, as well as novel therapeutics and prevention strategies (including vaccines). Active healthcare epidemiology programs are in place at all four teaching hospitals in the Emory system, and past research efforts have focused on the epidemiology of infections with methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), C. difficile, M. tuberculosis, vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), Group B streptococci, fungi, influenza, and parvovirus B19. Other research efforts include projects focusing on healthcare worker transmission, hand hygiene, and effective use of personal protective equipment (PPE) through the Prevention Epicenter of Emory and Atlanta Consortium Hospitals (PEACH).

Vaccinology

The Emory Vaccine Center (EVC) is an internationally renowned center for academic research and development of vaccines for both chronic and infectious diseases, and is one of the largest and most comprehensive academic vaccine research centers in the world. Primary program areas in basic science and translational research currently include HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis C virus (HCV), cytomegalovirus, gamma-herpes viruses, influenza, and DNA and protein-conjugate vaccines. The Hope Clinic of Emory University is the clinical arm of the EVC and an international center of excellence and leadership for clinical and translational research on vaccines and other biomedical interventions targeting infectious diseases of public health importance. The Hope Clinic is an NIH-sponsored HIV Vaccines Trials Unit (HVTU) and one of ten national NIH-sponsored Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEUs) - the latter comprise a clinical trials network overseen by the Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium (IDCRC), which is co-led by Emory investigators.

Fellows have the opportunity to work with a variety of faculty mentors in the EVC and many have participated in the Emory Vaccinology Training Program, whose mission is to train the next generation of vaccine investigators.

Serious and Emerging Communicable Diseases

The Emory Serious Communicable Diseases Unit (SCDU) at Emory University Hospital entered the national spotlight when it became the site of care for four patients with Ebola virus disease in 2014. Since then, Emory’s Serious Communicable Diseases Program (SCDP) has become a leading institution in research and educational efforts related to serious communicable diseases. The Emory SCDP co-leads the National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center (NETEC), whose mission is to increase the competency of health care and public health workers and the capability of health care facilities to deliver efficient and effective patient care for Ebola and other emerging threats. In addition, there is interest in tropical disease pathogenesis  and diagnostics for pathogens important to the global  health community. 

Global Health

The Emory/Atlanta community has a strong interest in infectious diseases in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Emory ID faculty have established collaborations and perform studies in a variety of countries, including Mexico, India, Ethiopia, Sudan, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia, Thailand, the Republic of Georgia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Venezuela. The Republic of Georgia and Ethiopia are two of the sites with the most extensive active collaborations and research opportunities, and Emory University is part of a Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) grant that regularly sends health professions trainees across Emory, including ID fellows, to Ethiopia for medical education initiatives. Emory is also part of the Vanderbilt-Emory-Cornell-Duke (VECD) Consortium which is sponsored by the NIH Fogarty International Center (FIC) and provides mentored global health research training opportunities in LMICs for fellows during their fellowship training. Recent fellowship graduates have had research projects in Brazil and India as part of the Fogarty program.

Medical Education

The Emory ID Division has long been a leader in medical education efforts at the institutional, regional, and national level. Emory ID Faculty hold key leadership roles in undergraduate medical education (UME) (course and clerkship directors at the School of Medicine) and graduate medical education (GME) (internal medicine residency program) programs at Emory. Key roles in the newly created IDSA Medical Education Community of Practice are held by Emory ID faculty who are leading multi-institutional educational initiatives. Areas of specific interest include adult learning theory, pedagogical techniques, and clinical reasoning.