By the University at Buffalo
To train future HIV researchers, the University at Buffalo and University of Zimbabwe have partnered to form the HIV research training program, supported by a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health John E. Fogarty International Center.
The five-year grant will support doctoral candidates and postdoctoral fellows completing clinical pharmacology research at the University of Zimbabwe Center of Excellence in Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
"The award will help UZ attract and train the highest talent in pharmacological research," said Charles Chiedza Maponga, doctor of pharmacy. He is co-investigator, director of the UZ Center of Excellence in Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and research assistant professor in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Through the program, UB faculty will serve as mentors and collaborators with UZ students and faculty.
"We are building a critical mass of clinical and translational scientists who will conduct important research as access to HIV medications increases in Zimbabwe," said Gene Morse, doctor of pharmacy. He is principal investigator, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and director of the UB Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences. "Global orientation with a focus on the development of sustainable infrastructure and scientific resources is essential to the future success of HIV prevention and treatment research."
The UZ center aims to address the issues complicating HIV treatment by conducting research in Zimbabwe that includes the large number of patients currently on or seeking medications to address issues such as maternal-fetal transmission, resistance, dietary factors, use of traditional and herbal medicines, and co-infection with hepatitis B, tuberculosis and malaria.
In spite of the downward trend in HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe - which affected 25 percent of adults in 2002 - the country still has a high HIV rate, currently estimated at 10 percent of adults, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS).
However, funding and support for biomedical research and education has risen over the past decade, despite the country's economic challenges, said Morse, also co-director of the SUNY Global Health Institute.
The UZ center, implemented in 2008 with NIH funding and modeled after UB's Translational Pharmacology Research Core and HIV and HCV Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory, established an academic research laboratory for UZ researchers focused on innovative drug development and clinical pharmacology training.
Since its implementation, the center has supported more than two-dozen publications, more than 20 poster presentations, four funded grant proposals and the creation of two certification programs.
"I feel the new award is, indeed, recognition of the foundation that has been built over the last eight years, and of the motivation and energy of the mentors and students," Morse said.
The partnership reflects the commitment by UB and SUNY to provide leadership in the area of global health. In 2015, UB launched the Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity, an initiative that seeks to tackle the challenge of global health inequality through interdisciplinary research.