Vaginal discharge syndrome (VDS) is one of the most common reasons for presentation to healthcare services worldwide, yet its aetiology and pathogenesis are poorly understood, as is vaginal health in general which is difficult to define. The management of VDS is often empirical, and some known causes of VDS, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV) and Trichomoniasis (TV) are associated with poor health outcomes, including HIV acquisition and adverse events in pregnancy. Specific biomarkers of genital mucosal damage and inflammation will better characterize vaginal health and disease. Recent descriptions of the vaginal microbiome using deep sequencing suggest that the vaginal microbiome is comprised of highly diverse microbial communities. However, the relationship of the vaginal microbial diversity with health and disease remains unclear.

The aim of this project is to describe the cervico-vaginal microbiome in the presence and absence of inflammation.

The objectives are:-

  1. Define a “healthy” genital ecology defined by:
    • Metabolic activity
    • Mucosal damage and immune markers
  2. Describe the genital microbiome in “healthy” and “non-healthy” phenotypes
  3. Describe novel pathogenic microbial patterns