CFAR Sponsors East Africa Research Symposium in Kenya, Translational Research Lab in Uganda


Introduction to the FACES program.

A two-week trip to Kenya and Uganda that began with the 7th Semi-Annual East Africa Research Symposium in Kisumu and culminated with the much-anticipated launch of the Infectious Diseases Institute's Translational Research Lab has helped to further ground the UCSF-Gladstone Center for AIDS Research's work in eastern Africa.

FACES Program in Kenya

CFAR Co-Directors Paul Volberding and Warner Greene, CFAR Manager Larkin Callaghan, and Global Health Sciences' Director of Education Molly Cooke kicked the visit off with a site visit to FACES (Family AIDS Care and Education Services) the community based HIV/AIDS organization launched by Dr. Craig Cohen twenty years ago in Kisumu, Kenya. Working in consort with both UCSF and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), the national body responsible for carrying out health research in Kenya, FACES supports over 130 health facilities, has enrolled over 121,000 patients in care, and initiated antiretroviral treatment in over 51,000. Based in the Nyanza province and offering a range of services including testing, treatment, voluntary male medical circumcision, and counseling, it targets the region of Kenya with the highest prevalence of HIV, at 14.9%.

CFAR East Africa Collaborative Research Symposium

Kisumu conference participants

Kisumu conference participants

FACES and KEMRI assisted in the organization of the CFAR East Africa Collaborative Research Symposium, which took place on January 20th - 21st at the Jumuia Hotel in Kisumu. With a turnout of over 90 participants and presenters, the conference also made sure to dedicate significant time to the development of concept notes that can serve as foundations for future funding proposals. Grouping participants based on research interests, over ten fully articulated concept notes are currently being reviewed by UCSF and UCSF affiliated faculty who can provide targeted feedback for each team as they move forward with funding applications.

Drs. Volberding, Greene, and Cohen each gave keynote presentations at the Symposium, with other lectures and discussions led by other major global health leaders, including Dr. Teri Reynolds, Dr. Lee Wallis, and Dr. Elizabeth Bukusi, Co-Director of the UCSF-KEMRI Research Care and Treatment Program. Of note, UCSF affiliated young investigators were also featured, including current GloCal fellow Dr. Helen Byakwaga and Dr. David Heller.

Following the symposium, a 20th anniversary celebration of the FACES-KEMRI partnership showcased many of the UCSF faculty and students currently engaged and benefitting from the partnership -- including psychiatrist Dr. Susan Meffert, rising 4th year medical student Chinwe Onu, and Dr. Cohen's former mentor and University of Washington CFAR Director Dr. King Holmes.

CFAR Leadership in 2015

Paul Volberding, MD, CFAR Director; Andrew Kambugo, MBChB, M.Med, Director of Research of the IDI; Stefanie Sowinski, PhD, East Africa Regional Director and Translational Lab Director; and Warner Greene, MD, PhD, at the Translational Research Laboratory launch.

Translational Research Laboratory Launch

Moving from Kisumu to Kampala, the CFAR team was fortunate to be present for the launch of the Translational Research Lab at the Infectious Diseases Institute. Supported in infrastructure by CFAR and led by Gladstone Institutes staff scientist Dr. Stefanie Sowinski, the lab has a team of six, one of whom recently was awarded a CFAR International Mentored Scientist Award, Sheila Nabweyambo. With widespread support from Makerere University and Mulago Hospital, as well as a wide range of collaborative institutions including the Accordia Global Health Foundation, the Lab is a partnership between the IDI and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Makerere. Principal of the College of Health Sciences at Makerere, Dr. Nelson Sewankambo, a long time UCSF and IDI collaborator, and Dr. Harriet Mayanja-Kizza, Dean of the School of Medicine at Makerere, were on hand to launch the lab and welcome the team.

The lab offers a great foundation for the capacity building goals of CFAR's International Team. It provides opportunities not merely for up and coming east African based and trained bench scientists, but also offers services for global programs to perform specific assays and tests that would otherwise be sent elsewhere for results.