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FPG Lecture Series Welcomes Dr. Sallie Permar

A photo of a boy smiling

Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute is pleased to welcome Dr. Sallie Permar as the second speaker in our 2018-2019 lecture series Child Development in a Global Context.

Congenital Cytomegalovirus Infection: The Silent Global Epidemic and Contributor to the Minority Achievement Gap

Sallie Permar, MD, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University School of Medicine

Cytomegalovirus is the most common infectious cause of birth defects, neurologic deficits, and hearing loss, yet less than 10% of women have knowledge of this pregnancy risk. Congenital CMV infection is common in both developing and developed regions, with placental transmission and symptomatic occurring both with primary maternal infection and reinfection. Moreover, seroprevalence rates and congenital transmission rates are higher in minority populations, increasing the risk of CMV-associated congenital disease in minority infants. Therefore, maternal education, promotion of universal infant testing, and support for vaccine development are needed to eliminate this infectious cause of early life cognitive impairment.

Dr. Sallie Permar is a physician scientist focusing on the prevention and treatment of neonatal viral infections. She leads a research laboratory investigating immune protection against vertical transmission of neonatal viral pathogens, namely HIV and cytomegalovirus (CMV), using human cohorts and nonhuman primate models. Dr. Permar has made important contributions to the development of vaccines for prevention of vertical HIV transmission, defining both innate and adaptive immune responses that are associated with protection against infant HIV acquisition. Moreover, Dr. Permar is leading the development of HIV vaccine strategies in maternal/infant nonhuman primate models and clinical vaccine trials in infants. Dr. Permar has also contributed to understanding the immunology of perinatal CMV transmission and the pathogenesis of postnatal infection in preterm infants. Dr. Permar developed the nonhuman primate model of congenital CMV infection and uses this model for defining the immune correlates of protection against CMV transmission and vaccine development.

Dr. Permar has a PhD in Microbiology/Immunology from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and completed her clinical training in pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital in Boston. She has received several prestigious early-stage investigator awards, including the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE) and was inducted into the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI) in 2016 and American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) in 2018.

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