Upstate Medical University

Areas of Research


Since the late 1990s, Upstate researchers have conducted serial longitudinal prospective studies on dengue, enrolling children and family members in Thailand to understand dengue pathogenesis, development of immune responses and correlates of protection, disease outcomes, risk factors for infection and transmission as well as transmission dynamics across families and communities. Family cohort studies that enroll mothers and newborns will examine how the early immune environment to DENV, as shaped by maternally-transferred DENV antibodies and the timing and features of early DENV and non-DENV flavivirus exposures, shapes an individual's immune profiles and future risk of illness.


While dengue largely remains endemic year-to-year, chikungunya transmission is manifested by outbreaks of disease that can be difficult to predict; acute illness can be followed by debilitating sequalae. Upstate researchers are working to define the epidemiology of chikungunya infection and disease, particularly in anticipation of outbreaks, with the ultimate goal of assisting in product development for prevention and/or treatment of disease.


Malaria collaborative projects exist select endemic provinces in Thailand and focus on areas such as multi-drug resistant Plasmodium falciparum infections and zoonotic transmission of simian malaria (Plasmodium knowlesi, etc.) and relapsing malaria (Plasmodium vivax and ovale). Challenges of relapsing malaria include understanding host pharmacogenomics and other factors that may affect the ability of anti-malarial drugs to clear the dormant hypnozoites.

Tick-Borne Diseases

Upstate researchers are involved in various tick-borne disease research initiatives within the basic and translational science pathways. Projects aim to understand vector, host, and viral determinants of arboviral transmission, the impact of co-infections on clinical outcomes, and virus-vector-host dynamics. Active surveillance projects are ongoing, seeking to understand the impact of climate change on the geographic expansion of tick-borne diseases and pathogen discovery.

Sickle Cell

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is one of the most common inherited disorders in the world, mostly affecting people of African descent and those living in malaria endemic regions. An approximate 75% or more of the estimated global births with SCD occur in SubSaharan Africa, and SCD accounts for an estimated 5% or greater of mortality in African children less than 5 years of age. It is widely cited that 50-90% of children born with SCD in Sub-Saharan Africa die before their 5th birthday, and the overall rate of death before age 5 years is estimated to be around 7% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

SUNY Upstate partners with Cincinnati Children's and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching & Referral Hospital on a project titled Sickle Cell Health and Reaching Equity: A Partnership for Quality Improvement. This project aims to decrease morbidity and mortality due to Sickle Cell Disease for pediatric patients at Obama Children's Hospital through data review, quality improvement projects, and capacity building an advocacy.