Steve Lagakos Remembered

Dr. Stephen Lagakos, an international leader in biostatistics and AIDS research and professor of biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), died in an auto collision on Monday, October 12th in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He was 63 years old. His wife, Regina, and his mother, Helen, were also killed in the daytime accident, along with the driver of the other car. Continue reading

AIDS in Africa: Photographs by Dominic Chavez

Virology and the Laws of War

Iain MacLeod

What do chemical warfare and AIDS research have in common? Both are subjects that Dr. Iain MacLeod, a research fellow in the Essex Lab, has studied extensively. Continue reading

Priority Number One: President Mogae Visits Harvard

President Festus Mogae photo by Dave Cliff

On April 13th the Harvard AIDS Initiative was honored to host Festus Mogae, the former President of Botswana, who served from 1998-2008. Max Essex, Chair of HAI, introduced President Mogae and outlined his achievements. Continue reading

Q&A with Dr. Thumbi Ndung’u

Thumbi-Ndung'uThough he is now an Associate Professor in HIV/AIDS Research at the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, as well as the Scientific Director of the HIV Pathogenesis Programme at the Doris Duke Medical Research Institute at the University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa, not so long ago Thumbi Ndung’u was a graduate student working with Max Essex at the Harvard AIDS Initiative.
He earned his PhD from Harvard in 2001, receiving the Haber Award in recognition of his “outstanding, original and creative thesis work that makes a fundamental contribution to our understanding of a biological problem important to public health.” After graduation he returned to Africa to work as a Research Scientist and the Laboratory Director at the Botswana–Harvard Partnership. He currently works in KwaZulu Natal, where approximately 40% of women reporting to antenatal clinics are HIV positive. His research focuses on HIV pathogenesis, host genetics, viral factors, and immune responses.
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A Day in the Life of a Graduate Student

Kim at work in the lab
Kim at work in the lab

The development of expertise requires sustained periods of practice. 10,000 hours is often cited as the amount of time necessary to achieve expert status. By that standard, Kim Armstrong, a graduate student in the lab of Max Essex at the Harvard AIDS Initiative, recently became an expert in HIV research. By her estimate, she has spent approximately 10,500 hours at her lab bench studying how drug resistance mutations affect the viral fitness of HIV. Continue reading

New Findings on Drug Resistance

Testing for drug resistance increases treatment costs photo by Richard Feldman
Testing for drug resistance increases treatment costs photo by Richard Feldman

The “Big Three” diseases of Africa are HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB. To date, we haven’t developed a successful vaccine for any of them, which means that drugs are of enormous importance in controlling the epidemics. For malaria and TB, the spread of drug resistant strains has wreaked public health havoc, restricting our ability to control and eliminate the diseases. Continue reading

A Day in the Life of a Graduate Student – expanded

It’s no secret that graduate students spend many hours each day in the lab, doing the exacting labor of research science, but what exactly are they doing in there? To answer that question, we shadowed Kim Armstrong, a student in the laboratory of Max Essex. Continue reading

HAI Friends Trip to Botswana

The 2008 Friends Trip participants in Gaborone, Botswana photo by Dave CLiff
The 2008 Friends Trip participants in Gaborone, Botswana photo by Dave CLiff

Though dinner with President Festus Mogae was one of the highlights of the 2008 Friends Trip to Botswana, several travelers cited the small meetings with participants in the Botswana-Harvard Partnership’s (BHP) clinical trials as the most valuable experience. Continue reading

Interview with Irene Kiwelu

Ireen Kiwelu (right)Ireen Kiwelu is a Fogarty Fellow conducting research in the Essex Lab at the Harvard School of Public Health. Born in Moshi, Tanzania, at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, she was educated in Tanzania, Denmark, England and Norway. She returned to her hometown to work as a Senior Research Scientist at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center. Continue reading