Abdoulie Bojang determined to understand how the use of prophylactic azithromycin may increase levels of antibiotic resistance in The Gambia

20 December 2018

Abdoulie Bojang is a Microbiologist doing his PhD on understanding how public health interventions (i.e. prophylactic use of azithromycin) aimed at reducing mortality may establish antibiotic resistance in the community.

Abdoulie Bojang rejoined MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM in 2008 after completing his MSc in Biomedical Science. He worked as a scientific officer for 5 years primarily responsible for the management, training and supervision of laboratory technicians on a number epidemiological studies and clinical trials. In 2013, he was promoted to a Higher Scientific Officer in charge of the PregnAnZI-1 project. Abdoulie was responsible for the training and supervision of the scientific officer.

Dr Abdoulie Bojang

In 2016, Abdoulie won a scholarship to undertake a 4-year PhD study at the Open University entitled: Staphylococcus aureus long term prevalence, distribution of sequence types, genes associated with macrolide resistance and characteristics of Staphylococci species following one oral dose of azithromycin given to women during labour.

The study is ancillary to the PregnAnZI trials and aims at evaluating the risk of the use of azithromycin in establishing antibiotic resistance in the community. Dr Anna Roca is Abdoulie’s director of studies and he has additional supervisors that cover a wide range of disciplines: Dr Ousman Secka (MRCG at LSHTM,The Gambia), Dr Christian Bottomley(LSHTM, UK) and Professor Benjamin Howden (Doherty Institute/ University Melbourne, Australia).

This year Abdoulie published the first output of his PhD in the prestigious Clinical Infectious Diseases Journal. The results presented in the paper showed that the initial increase of azithromycin resistance observed after the exposure to azithromycin for S. aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae wanes by 1 year post-treatment. In addition, Abdoulie has spent seven months in Professor Howden’s lab investigating the distribution of S.aureus macrolide resistance genes and sequence types among children exposed and non-exposed to azithromycin at birth. He further received training in the identification of bacterial species using matrix assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOFF MS) and antibiotic susceptibility testing using the VITEK® 2 system.

Abdoulie is now finalizing the analysis of the sequences obtained during his time in Australia. He is also preparing a new manuscript and finalizing the lab work for the final component of his PhD which seeks to describe the impact of the intervention on susceptibility patterns of Staphylococcal species from different swabs obtained from the study participants.

Dr Anna Roca commented that “Abdoulie has been working hard for the first half of his PhD and has generated a lot of interesting and novel data. He now has time to ensure timely outputs to succeed on his effort”.