SFU heads $1.8M African HIV project

December 2, 2010

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Simon Fraser University is leading a four-year, $1.8-million project to improve the ability of research facilities in Africa to carry out much-needed HIV prevention research trials, in collaboration with the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) in Durban, South Africa.

Molecular biologist Mark Brockman and his SFU colleagues are teaming up with UKZN scientist Thumbi Ndung’u to build a research network that supports the efforts of Africans to conduct clinical, biomedical and sociological studies on HIV/AIDS and related infections.

The researchers will partner with African “Sites of Excellence” in South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia, Rwanda and Uganda. They’ll deliver training programs and laboratory improvement strategies designed to enhance research and clinical capacity, and support collaboration among scientists in areas of Africa that are most affected by HIV/AIDS.

“Through this project, we will link developed and developing sites in Africa with expert support from North American investigators,” says Brockman.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to extend the efforts of SFU faculty who already work in the region through a shared strategy that also provides African sites with training in essential skills — including knowledge of public health surveillance and advanced diagnostic techniques.”

Other SFU faculty members include Zabrina Brumme, Robert Hogg, Cari Miller, Ralph Pantophlet, Jamie Scott and Jeremy Snyder.

Known as the Canada-Sub-Saharan Africa (CANSSA) network, the group is also working to improve clinical and laboratory infrastructure by purchasing essential equipment and data management systems.

“Once the appropriate tools and expertise are in place, we anticipate that African researchers will collaborate independently on projects that apply cross-disciplinary approaches to studying local HIV epidemics,” Brockman says.

“The ability of these sites to support randomized controlled trials will allow African researchers to rigorously test the effectiveness of new prevention strategies, including vaccines and microbicides, which will provide important contributions to our fight against AIDS.”

The project is one of seven new endeavours being funded by the Canadian government’s Global Health Research Initiative to strengthen research capacity for African-led HIV/AIDS prevention trials in Sub-Saharan Africa, which remains at the centre of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.


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Judy Curran

AWESOME WORK! Congratulations. I work with the Victoria Grandmothers for Africa group. We raise money and awareness for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which supports numerous on the ground projects building on the African grandmother's expertise and support as they raies the millions of children whise parents have died from HIV/AIDS. As you move forward with thois project, please consider partnerships with the grandmothers (there are key contact grandmothers in the projects)who may/could provide untold support to this project. well done.

A side note - I graduated SFU '93 MEd.

All the best wityh your work. Exciting!

Judy Curran

All the best

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