Funded Research

The Gut Microbiome and C. difficile Colonization in Pediatric Oncology Patients
Principal Investigator(s):
  • Daniel Willis, M.D. Pediatrics
  • Center for Metabolism and Immunity
  • McDonnell Pediatric Cancer Center
Award Mechanism:
Postdoctoral Fellowship
Project Period:
2/1/2019 - 1/31/2021
Total Amount:

Project Summary

Clostridium difficile infections (CDI) are a significant source of morbidity in pediatric oncology patients.  The relationship between asymptomatic C. difficile colonization and symptomatic CDI is an understudied area of research.  Colonized patients are at risk for subsequent symptomatic CDI and contribute to C. difficile transmission.  After new acquisition, the risk for CDI is even higher.  Recent studies have evaluated intestinal microbiome composition as an individual risk factor for CDI.  By investigating colonization and the intestinal microbiome, we may be able to identify patients at risk for subsequent infection.

Specific aims

·         Determine the prevalence of C. difficile colonization in hospitalized pediatric oncology patients at the time of first hospital admission and their rate of healthcare associated acquisition of C. difficile, using previously acquired pediatric oncology fecal samples.

·         Determine if a patient’s stool microbiome composition and diversity are associated with colonization with C. difficile and/or symptomatic CDI.

Potential impact on child health

This work will allow for characterization of C. difficile colonization and the microbiota protective and promoting factors.  By studying this, we will lay the foundation for prospective studies to decrease the overall incidence of CDI on the oncology floor resulting in an associated decrease in infection related morbidity.