Meet the CIPHER grantees

Eric McCollum

Year awarded: 2014
Institution: Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine
Research site: UNC Project, Salima District Hospital, Lilongwe, Malawi
Primary mentor: Mina Hosseinipour, UNC Project, Malawi

Eric McCollum is an Assistant Professor of paediatric pulmonology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine with more than 10 years of paediatric clinical and research experience in southern Africa and South Asia.

More information on Eric | Email

“Through the CIPHER grant, I have begun collaborating with a group that has developed an innovative non-invasive ventilation device for infants that is similar to bubble CPAP, but provides both inspiratory pressure and a back-up respiratory rate (called Neovent).”

Research project: Bubble continuous positive airway pressure (bCPAP) treatment in hospitalized African infants failing standard pneumonia care in a high HIV prevalence country

The issue

Pneumonia is the most common cause of death in children up to 59 months worldwide. Elevated child pneumonia mortality rates continue in African countries with high HIV prevalence. bCPAP is considered to be an effective, low-cost, simple, non-invasive ventilation approach used in resource-rich countries to treat severe paediatric respiratory illnesses. Some African hospitals are utilizing bCPAP for children failing standard pneumonia treatment. However, quality evidence supporting bCPAP use in African children with pneumonia in high-prevalence HIV countries is limited.

It is imperative that quality, innovative research is performed with the aim of improving respiratory outcomes while shaping future studies that refine bCPAP care or explore other modalities. Hospitals are key entry points for paediatric HIV care in Africa, and improved survival of infants living with HIV and HIV-exposed infants could significantly impact access to ART and prevention interventions.

The CIPHER project

This project originally proposed a prospective observational study to determine bCPAP outcomes, differentiated by HIV antibody status, of 400 hospitalized Malawian infants failing standard pneumonia care. Dr McCollum hypothesized that both HIV antibody-positive and HIV antibody-negative infants failing standard pneumonia care would benefit from bCPAP.

Based on feedback from the CIPHER Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee in 2014, he modified it into a randomized controlled trial, and acquired additional funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The revised project used a randomized controlled design to study bCPAP outcomes, compared with standard low-flow nasal oxygen endorsed by WHO and Malawi national pneumonia guidelines, in high-risk hospitalized Malawian children with WHO-defined severe pneumonia, including children living with HIV and HIV-exposed children. The additional funding extended the trial into 2018, with results expected in late 2018.

The impact

As a result of receiving the CIPHER grant, Dr McCollum was chosen to chair a strategic review conducted by WHO’s Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health. He has received multiple speaking invitations (ASM Microbe, World Pneumonia Day, Union Conference for Lung Disease, and Gates Foundation child pneumonia diagnosis workshop). And he has been promoted within the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to Assistant Professor.