Dr. Slyker received her BA (Biology) from Colgate University, her MSc (Integrative Bioscience) from Oxford University, and her PhD (Immnuology) from Open University. She began working with the Kenya group in 2000 as a Research Assistant in Nairobi, Kenya.
Dr. Slyker’s major research interest is in understanding the unique way in which the infant immune system handles viral infection. Birth is a time of transition from a mostly sterile environment to one brimming with pathogens. In infants, HIV infection occurs at a time when many infants also acquire persistent viral infections (herpes viruses: EBV/CMV/HHV-8). Though usually asymptomatic, these herpes viruses can cause severe disease in individuals that are immunosuppressed by HIV-1. Conversely, these herpes viruses themselves may accelerate HIV disease progression. Understanding the bi-directional interactions between HIV and herpes viruses, and the way in which this is modified by HIV therapy, maternal pMTCT prophylaxis, and antiviral suppressive therapy will enable the design of alternative preventative and therapeutic strategies to improve the health of HIV-infected children.