Drs. Roger Shapiro & Shahin Lockman: Partners in Research & Parenting

Shahin Lockman and Roger Shapiro

There are not many couples in which both husband and wife are first authors on a paper in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, but Drs.Roger Shapiro and Shahin Lockman are one of them. In addition to being researchers for the Harvard AIDS Initiative, both are also physicians specializing in infectious diseases. Together they have three sons, ages three, six and nine. And in spite of constant demands on their schedules, Shapiro and Lockman spend a significant amount of time mentoring young HIV/AIDS researchers.

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Saturday Is for Funerals Slideshow

Max Essex and Unity Dow kicked off the American book tour of Saturday Is for Funerals in Boston at the Harvard Club on May 17th 2010. The book explores both the science and the personal stories behind the AIDS epidemic in southern Africa.

An Excerpt from Saturday Is for Funerals

Cover Saturday Is For Funerals

I KNOW YOU STILL LOVE ME: SEXUAL TRANSMISSION
Chapter 2 from Saturday Is for Funerals

Divorces in Botswana are heard by the High Court; that is how seriously the country views marriage. By the time a marriage occurs, there will have been, at the very minimum, six family meetings, starting with those involving close family and progressing to those involving easily sixty or more extended family members. During the weeks, sometimes months, of family meetings and negotiations, small and big feasts are enjoyed, during which presents of bogadi cattle, firewood, and clothes are handed over to the bride’s family by the husband’s. By the time the couple says their Western-influenced “I do’s” before the marriage officer or Catholic priest or minister of religion, and an equally Western-style wedding party is held under white tents, all the customary aspects of the marriage process have been concluded. Parents, uncles, and aunts have given their advice, and the recurring message is simple: “Not two people but two families have just been joined in marriage, and nothing, not even death, is expected to end the relationship.” In fact, according to custom a deceased woman can remain married to a living man. So death does not, per se, end marriage under traditional law. Continue reading

Interview with Unity Dow

Unity DowUnity Dow is a novelist, lawyer, and human rights activist. A native of Botswana, Dow earned acclaim as a young lawyer for her stances on women’s rights. She became the first woman justice on Botswana’s High Court where she served for ten years. After stepping down from the Court in 2009, she opened Dow & Associates, a law firm in Botswana. In 2010 she was appointed as a judge on the Interim Constitutional Court of Kenya whose mandate is to hear cases arising from Kenya’s constitutional review process. Continue reading

Virologist and Novelist Collaborate

Unity Dow and Max Essex

They are an odd couple of co-authors. Max Essex, Chair of the Harvard AIDS Initiative and a world-renowned research scientist, teamed up with Unity Dow, author of four novels and the first woman to sit on Botswana’s High Court, to write Saturday Is for Funerals. The book, a hybrid of the science of HIV/AIDS and the personal stories of African families affected by the epidemic, plays to the strengths of both authors. Continue reading

Harvard President Visits the Botswana–Harvard Partnership

President Faust thanks a BHP clinic doctor in Mochudi Photo by Justin Ide
President Faust thanks a BHP clinic doctor in Mochudi. Photo by Justin Ide

Harvard President Drew Faust toured clinics and laboratories of the Botswana–Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) on the first visit of a sitting Harvard president to Africa. (View a slide show here) Established in 1996, the BHP is a collaborative research and training initiative between the government of Botswana and the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative (HAI). Continue reading

Herpes & HIV: Not What You Think

It is always a shock to find out that what you had assumed was true simply is not. That is why clinical trials are so important in science. The unexpected results of a recent trial examining herpes and HIV demonstrates the importance of carrying out controlled trials to test preconceived beliefs. Continue reading

Best Practices in HIV/AIDS Programs

"Playing with Tires" 2007, Maputo, Mozambique Photo by Cecelia, age 13, courtesy Venice Arts©
“Playing with Tires” 2007, Maputo, Mozambique Photo by Cecelia, age 13, courtesy Venice Arts©

Dr. Richard Marlink, Executive Director of the Harvard AIDS Initiative, is the Executive Editor of the recently published From the Ground Up: Building Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Care Programs in Resource-Limited Settings. This three-volume collection of best practices and lessons includes contributions from over 320 distinguished HIV/AIDS professionals from around the globe, with a special focus on sub-Saharan Africa. The book is being offered free-of-charge so that it will reach the widest possible audience, especially those involved with program implementation work “on the ground” in resource-limited settings. Continue reading

Research Opportunities for Undergrads

Carlos (second from right) with fellow undergrads and a BHP staff member
Carlos (second from right) with fellow undergrads and a BHP staff member

Not many undergraduates have the opportunity to conduct their own laboratory research projects. Harvard students who spend a semester abroad at the Botswana–Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) are a rare exception. Last year, Carlos Becerril, a pre-med social anthropology major, researched drug resistance among antiretroviral-naïve patients with recent HIV infection in Botswana. Continue reading

Profile Rebeca Plank

Rebeca Plank with her parents in Bahia, Brazil
Rebeca Plank with her parents in Bahia, Brazil

If it hadn’t been for public health, Rebeca Plank might not have been conceived. Her parents met through a common interest in public health during a medical conference in the late 1960s.

Her father, Stephen Plank, a physician from the U.S., did his medical residency in the Panama Canal Zone. While there, he was dismayed to discover that he had to send people out from the hospital to the same conditions that had brought them there in the first place. He began to understand that while clinical medicine was important, the best way to make a lasting difference in people’s lives was to address root problems. He went back to school and earned a doctorate from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). Continue reading