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  • Pauline Byakika-Kibwika, winner of the HIVRT alumni scholarship to attend the HIV Drug Therapy Congress, Glasgow, 2018.



    HIV Research Trust alumni were asked to complete a survey describing how their HIVRT scholarship had impacted their professional and academic lives allowing Trustees to better understand how it affected patient outcomes in the scholar’s home setting. The Trustees assessed all survey responses and selected Pauline to receive the above award. Her story is summarised below.

    In 2010 Pauline attended a placement at Mahidol University, Thailand to obtain clinical pharmacology analytical skills to assist her in completing her PhD. Pauline’s PhD work contributed to the current knowledge on treatment of malaria in HIV-infected patients who are also receiving antiretroviral treatment. This work has been utilised and referenced by the World Health Organization in the current policy on treatment of malaria in HIV-infected individuals.

    After completion of her PhD, she was promoted to Associate Professor and currently heads the Infectious Diseases Unit at the Department of Medicine of Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda where they care for those who are affected with HIV and opportunistic infections - more than 200 HIV-infected inpatients and over 300 outpatients are seen each month.

    Pauline is also the Director of the Research Directorate at Makerere where her responsibilities include reviewing and guiding the research framework at the Department of Medicine and supervising Masters and PhD students’ research projects.
  • Gladys Njeri Macharia
    Country Kenya
    Job Title Research Officer
    Date of Scholarship 20 June -18 August 2012
    Host Institution The Neutralizing Antibody Centre at the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, USA
    Scholarship Title Defining the desired antibody response to HIV



    I spent two months at the IAVI's neutralizing antibody center learning assays related to characterization of antibody function.

    In the initial phase, I learnt how to evaluate sera from chronic HIV-1 patients for broad neutralization of HIV-1. As part of the neutralization assay I also learnt how to prepare HIV-1 mutant pseudoviruses by site directed mutagenesis of the HIV-1 envelope, and thereafter using the mutated envelop to transfect a permissive cell line that would in turn generate the desired HIV-1 mutants. Other antibody characterization assays that I learnt include a binding assay and a capture assay that can be utilized to map the epitopes against which a HIV response is directed. In addition, I learnt an Antibody Dependent Cellular Cytotoxicity (ADCC) assay to evaluate the Fc-R mediated effector functions of an antibody. Finally, I received level-3 biosafety lab training. The process of learning these assays involved learning basic lab techniques such as maintenance of a pure cell line, extraction of DNA, transformation, and production and purification of the HIV-1 protein gp140. These are all techniques that I will employ to characterize antibodies in the sera of a HIV exposed but seronegative cohort with respect to their ability to neutralise virus or to mediate antibody-mediated cellular cytotoxicity, which may explain their protection from HIV infection despite multiple exposures. These assays were previously not established at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme and will be of interest not just to myself but also to other HIV immunologists at Kilifi.

    The Neutralising Antibody Centre has a large team of HIV scientists, including structural and computational biologists, immunologists and protein chemists that investigate the function of HIV-specific antibodies with the aim to devise an effective AIDS vaccine. Through out my training, I met several of these scientists. I learnt about their research, and the approach that they are taking to define the immune response that an effective vaccine needs to elicit, and to design an immunogen that would be capable of eliciting such responses. The training that I received not only equipped me with valuable immunology and molecular biology techniques but also enriched my understanding of immunity, and of the current trends in research within HIV immunology.



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    2018/19 TIMELINE

    • 2019 scholarships announced late December 2018

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    HOW TO APPLY

    If you are interested in applying for a scholarship find out more below:

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    AM I ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

    The scholarships are for health care professionals in early/mid-career who are located in resource-limited settings from low-income and lower-middle-income countries working in the field of HIV infection. Read more to see if you are eligible.