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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.
  • Joseph Fokam
    Country Cameroon
    Job Title Junior Scientist, specialised on Infectious Diseases
    Date of Scholarship February-May 2012
    Host Country University of Tor Vergata (UTV), Rome, Italy
    Scholarship HIV-1 Ultra-Deep Sequencing for the Study of Minority Antiretroviral Drug Resistance Variants
     

    HIV-1 ULTRA DEEP SEQUENCING FOR THE STUDY OF MINORITY ANTIRETROVIRAL DRUG RESISTANCE VARIANTS

    I undertook my training project at the Chair of Virology Laboratory at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Rome, Italy. The training covered the following:

        1. Theoretical and practical knowledge on HIV-1 ultra-deep sequencing: This training was effective by processing a set of twenty HIV-1 plasma samples using the Roche P454 pyrosequencing technology. Briefly, RNA extraction was performed using QiagenTM, followed by amplicon library construction (library preparation, quantitation and dilution), emulsion amplification (PCR, bead recovery, bead enrichment and bead count), sequencing reaction (preparing the PicoTiter Plate device and start run), and primary data analysis using the AVA software (Amplicon Variant Analyzer). Secondary analysis is underway for the study of HIV-1 minority drug resistant quasi-species, comparison to bulk sequencing, and manuscript write-up.
        2. Hands-on Bioinformatics for Molecular Phylogeny: Training on phylogenetic tree construction and interpretation, for HIV subtype/clade assignation, was performed using bioinformatics tools, among which BioEdit v.5, MEGA v.5, SplitsTree v.4, Recombinant Detection Program v.3.44, and FigTree
        3. Analyses and interpretation of HIV drug resistance-associated mutations for clinical management of patients: This skill was acquired using samples processed for HIV-1 drug resistance testing (RNA extraction, RTPCR/Nested PCR, direct sequencing, analysis using Stanford HIV drug resistance database)
        4. Procedures for sequence submission into the public databank: this hands-on procedure was acquired through the submission of 80 HIV-1 polymerase (protease-reverse transcriptase) gene sequences into the GenBank, using BioEdit v.5 and Sequin softwares.
    Direct outcomes of the training: To sustain the acquired skills and optimise knowledge transfer on Next Generation Sequencing into Molecular Virology in Cameroon, the following opportunities were offered:
        • Application of these skills into routine research and clinical activities in Cameroon;
        • Exposure to other Next Gen Sequencers (Ion TorrentTM) in USA and participation to the New England Biolabs Molecular Biology summer workshop in June 2012;
        • One-year Post-Doctorate Research Fellowship on the application of Next Generation Sequencing (P454) in Molecular Virology at the University of Rome, Tor Vergata.
        • Collaboration between my home (CIRCB) and host (University of Rome Tor Vergata) institutions has also been strengthened.

    I remain very grateful: (1) To the HIV Research Trust for sponsoring this training research project which has exposed me to a wider range of opportunities; (2) To the PRD (Poverty Related Disease) College for my travel and daily subsistence; (3) To the staff of the Virology Laboratory of the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, especially my Supervisors (Prof Carlo-Federico Perno and Prof Vittorio Colizzi) and training Coordinators (Ass. Prof Francesca Ceccherini-Silberstein and Dr Maria Santoro), for hosting the project, for knowledge and skills transfer, and for offering me a PostDoctoral Research Fellow position; (4) To my Wife (Fokam Rita Mejane) and my Daughter (Giulia Louisiana) for also their constant encouragements and supports.


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    2018 Timeline

    • Online application for 2019 scholarships opens 20 August 2018 and closes 12 October 2018
    • 2019 scholarships announced late December 2018

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    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.