This is unpublished


Infectious Diseases
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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Dr. Benki-Nugent is a virologist and epidemiologist. Her research focuses on perinatal HIV infection, in utero HIV exposure, and child development and hearing outcomes. She also studies how pollutants impact neurodevelopment in child populations with high burden of HIV infection and exposure. Her goal is to inform therapeutic, psychosocial, and policy-level interventions to improve cognitive and mental health outcomes in infants, children, and adolescents affected these exposures. 

Dr. Benki-Nugent leads an R01 on prenatal exposure to air pollution and early neurodevelopment outcomes in Kenyan children living in Nairobi. This project involves a birth cohort, assessment of executive function at preschool-age, and measurement of prenatal exposure to both lead and air pollutants using biomarkers. She also leads a P01 project, based in Migori, Kenya, on the impact of the infant gut microbiome and human milk oligosaccharides on neurodevelopment. She is involved in numerous other NIH funded studies focused on neurodevelopment in young children affected by HIV and cognitive outcomes in adolescents living with HIV. 

Children affected by HIV have high risk of hearing impairment, and in general, children in low-resource settings have poor access to hearing screenings and assessment. In partnership with researchers at the University of Nairobi and Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Dr. Benki-Nugent leads an R21 to test reliability of a low-cost smartphone-based newborn hearing screening device, a project that will both inform low-cost hearing screening tools for public health and research on rates and risk factors for hearing loss in children affected by HIV.

Dr. Benki-Nugent also teaches the course “Science and Public Health,” a core class in the Public Health Global Health Undergraduate Major.

research interests

  • HIV
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Maternal Child Health
  • Environmental Health

education & training

BA,  Arts and Sciences Honors Curriculum (Plan II), University of  Texas, Austin, TX, 1996
MS, Epidemiology UW, Seattle, WA, 2001
PhD, Microbiology, UW, Seattle, WA, 2006