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Azucena Bardají Alonso

Azucena Bardají Alonso

Assistant Research Professor Malaria, Salut materna, infantil i reproductiva

Azucena Bardají is a clinical researcher and epidemiologist on maternal health whose research interests have been always directed towards the health problems affecting most vulnerable populations in resource-poor settings and linked to poverty-related diseases. She has been working in ISGlobal/CRESIB since 2002 when she joined the Manhiça Health Research Centre (CISM) in Mozambique, and worked and lived there for several years. During that time her work focused on the evaluation of preventive strategies for the control of the harmful effects of malaria during pregnancy in African pregnant women, the clinical features of malaria in pregnancy and the impact of HIV/AIDS on maternal and infant health. She also had clinical responsibilities attending pregnant women and children at the Manhiça District Hospital, a public rural hospital in southern Mozambique. 

Over the last years, her work has been devoted to P. vivax malaria as technical scientific coordinator and researcher of a multicentre collaborative project aimed at estimating the burden and impact of P. vivax infection in pregnancy on maternal and newborn health, the PREGVAX project, a EU FP7 funded programme. More recently, she has been involved in operational research related to the introduction of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in African countries, and in a pilot study of a phase III trial of the Group B streptococcal candidate vaccine in Mozambican pregnant women. In 2014 she was awarded with a Ramon y Cajal Fellowship by the Government of Spain.

She collaborates since 2012 with the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Malaria in Pregnancy (MiP) Working Group, and since 2008 with the Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium (MiPc). She is lecturer and coordinates several courses of the Master of Global Health organized by ISGlobal and the University of Barcelona.

In 2016, she was awarded the L'Oréal-UNESCO Prize for Women in Science, promoted by L'Oréal-UNESCO as part of its program for the visibility and recognition of women scientists.

Education and Training

  • PhD. University of Barcelona, Spain, 2009. “Malaria control in pregnancy. The effect of Intermittent Preventive Treatment and the use of Insecticide-treated bednets delivered through antenatal care clinics on maternal and newborn health”. Directors: Clara Menéndez and Pedro Alonso.
  • MSc in Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), University of London, UK, 2006-07
  • MSc in Tropical Medicine and International Health, University of Barcelona, Spain, 2002
  • Residency Family & Community Medicine, University Hospital Lozano Blesa, Zaragoza, Spain, 1999-2002
  • MD Medical Degree, University of Zaragoza, Spain, 1992-98

Lines of Research

  • Evaluation of preventive strategies for the control of malaria in pregnancy. To investigate the effect of insecticide-treated nets and intermittent preventive treatment on the prevention of the deleterious effects of malaria in African pregnant women and their babies
  • Burden and impact of P.falciparum and P.vivax malaria during pregnancy. To better understand the burden and clinical characterization of P.falciparum during pregnancy in African women. To determine the burden and impact of P.vivax malaria in pregnancy in Latinamerica, Asia and South Pacific regions and, the genotypical and phenotypical characterization of vivax parasites in the placenta
  • Feasibility and acceptability of the introduction of the Human Papillomavirus vaccine in developing countries. To assess the feasibility and acceptability of vaccinating young adolescent girls with the HPV vaccine in Mozambique outside the routine immunization scheme comparing two different delivery strategies, school-based and community-based
  • Determining the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases in pregnant women in resource poor settings. To generate good data on the epidemiology of diseases that affect pregnant women and their babies in low-income countries and that can be prevented through maternal immunization, with particular focus on Group B Streptococcus, pertussis and respiratory syncytial virus.

Main Publications

  • Bardají A*, María Eugenia Castellanos, Michela Menegon, Alfredo Mayor, et al. Plasmodium vivax congenital malaria in an area of very low endemicity in Guatemala: implications for clinical and epidemiological surveillance in a malaria elimination context. Mal J. Dec 2012.* Equal contributors.
  • Mayor A, Bardají A, Ingrid Felger, et al.Placental infection with Plasmodium vivax: a histopathological and molecular study. J Infect Dis. 2012 Oct 10.
  • Bardají A, Bassat Q, Alonso PL and Menendez C. Intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnant women and infants: making best use of the available evidence. 2012 Aug;13(12):1719-36.  2012 Jul 9.
  • Bardají A., Sigauque B, Sanz S.,  et al. Impact of malaria at the end of pregnancy on infant mortality and morbidity. J Infect Dis. 2011 Jan 3.
  • Menéndez C, Bardají A, Betuel Sigauque MD, et al. Malaria prevention with IPTp during pregnancy reduces neonatal mortality. PlosOne 2010 Feb 26;5(2):e9438
  • D Naniche, Bardají A, M Lahuerta, et al. Impact of maternal HIV infection on birth outcomes and infant survival in rural Mozambique. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2009 may;80(5):870-6
  • Menéndez C, Bardají A,  Betuel Sigauque , Cleofé Romagosa , et al.A randomized placebo-controlled trial of Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnant Women in the context of Insecticide Treated Nets delivered through the Antenatal Clinic . Plos One Apr9;384):e1934.
  • Bardají A. Sigaúque B, Bruni L, Romagosa C, et al. Clinical malaria in African pregnant women. 30;7:27