Research in the Passmore Lab – otherwise known as the Mucosal Infections Group (MIG) – focuses on understanding how immune and inflammatory responses in the female reproductive tract influence susceptibility to, and/or protection from, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as those caused by  HIV and HPV. Located in the University of Cape Town at the southern tip of Africa, we are a multidisciplinary team aimed at innovating and implementing female-focused biomedical approaches to improve the reproductive health of women on our continent.

Our lead projects investigate the inter-relationship between genital inflammation, the vaginal microbiome and susceptibility to STIs and bacterial vaginosis (BV). Our lead innovations are (1) the development of the Genital InFlammation Test (GIFT) as a rapid, cheap, point-of-care test to screen for asymptomatic STIs/BV in women where etiologic testing for these conditions is limited; and (2) the development of a topical live biotherapeutic product to treat BV that restores and maintains vaginal microbial health. Our mission through research is both to understand the factors that contribute to increased risks of acquiring STIs and BV, and to translate this understanding into opportunities to improve the treatment and reproductive health of women in Africa.