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How the CTSI Helped Me Help You: Paola J. Fonseca-Romero, PhD Candidate

paola fonseca romero

Paola Fonseca-Romero, PhD Candidate 
Department of Pathology


The Utah CTSI had the privilege of talking to Paola Fonseca-Romero, a PhD candidate in the Department of Pathology. We thank her for taking the time to answer our questions about her research emphasis within the global health of children from high and low-resource settings as well as how the CTSI has impacted it.

What is your research area?

Currently, I am earning my Ph.D. and MSCI at the University of Utah with Daniel Leung, MD, MSc. The Leung lab focuses on global health and collaborating in rural areas around the world to understand how the gut immune system works to combat diarrheal diseases. My projects focus on the development of a clinical prediction rule for the management of diarrhea in children from high and low-resource settings. In addition, I research bloody diarrhea etiology in children admitted to the emergency room for gastroenteritis in five sites in the United States.

What makes it relevant?

Diarrheal diseases are among the leading causes of death in children worldwide. In high-income countries, pediatric diarrhea remains a major utilization of healthcare resources. Treatment of diarrhea diseases is empiric, with antibiotics used mostly based on clinical suspicion of bacterial causes. However, in most cases of diarrhea, they do not benefit from antibiotic use and inappropriate use leads to toxicity and resistance. In addition, despite the availability of rapid molecular testing, there is a lack of data to base a decision on when to test and to whom.

How does it help the world?

Our goal is to develop and validate clinical decision tools for the management of diarrheal diseases in children in both low and high-resource countries. By doing this we can make available many clinical tools that healthcare workers worldwide can use for evidence-based care of children with diarrhea. Ultimately, reducing childhood mortality and antibiotic resistance in these children. 

How has the CTSI helped you?

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) has been instrumental in supporting my research endeavors in several ways. Firstly, through their grant funding opportunities, I’ve been able to secure resources to conduct my research, as well as have the opportunity to take additional training and seminars related to leadership, individual development plans (IDP), and guidance from great mentors. Secondly, the CTSI provides valuable networking and collaborative opportunities.


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