Swedish, South African, Kenyan scientists embark on collaborative project to cure HIV
A Principal Investigator and Head of Systems Virology at the Department of Laboratory Science, Lund University, Sweden, Dr. Joakim Esbjornsson has recently obtained a 12-month, 146 000 SEK (approximately R211,500.00) grant from the Swedish Foundation for International Co-operation in Research and Higher Education (STINT) to enhance collaboration between Lund University, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in Durban, South Africa as well as the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Kilifi, Kenya for a study entitled, “Hyperacute HIV-1 Infection – Towards a Functional HIV-1 Cure or Vaccine.”
“STINT’s support will enable us to take the first formal steps towards a close collaboration between Lund, UKZN, and KEMRI, and to launch an exciting research programme that aims to determine potent antibody responses towards the most commonly transmitted HIV-1 strains,” says Esbjörnsson. “This will strengthen the relationship between the three partner institutions and nurture the exchange of scientific expertise and research methodology. Ultimately, we hope to pave the way to fundamentally new insights on how HIV-1 establish disease and how novel cure and vaccine strategies can be designed.”
Through this venture, participating scientists will apply state-of-the-art technologies to rare patient samples available via international collaborations. The translational profile of the research programme takes advantage of the experience and skills in bioinformatics and advanced molecular biology available at the partner sites. To further ensure capacity building, a bioinformatics workshop directed towards students and researchers at the higher education level is included in the plans.
All key researchers in the programme are affiliated to the intercontinental Sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV Research Excellence (SANTHE) formed in 2015 to advance African science and scientists, and fight HIV/AIDs and TB. Dr Joakim Esbjörnsson is a SANTHE Mentor; Professor Thumbi Ndung’u – based in Durban, South Africa – is the SANTHE Programme Director, and also Director of the HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) at UKZN, and a Principal Investigator at the African Health Research Institute (AHRI); and Professor Eduard Sanders – based in Kilifi, Kenya – is a Co-recipient of the SANTHE grant, and also Professor of Tropical Medicine and Global Health at the University of Oxford, and a Principal Investigator at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme.
STINT was set up by the Swedish Government in 1994 with the mission to internationalise Swedish higher education and research. The organisation promotes knowledge and competence development within internationalisation and invests in internationalisation projects proposed by researchers, educators and leaderships at Swedish universities. AlphaGalileo