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 to 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 →
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 →
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 →
If it hadn’t been for public health, Rebeca Plank might not have been conceived. Her parents met at 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 →
Dr. Rebeca Plank is the Principal Investigator of a new clinical trial, Infant Male Circumcision in Gaborone, Botswana, and Surrounding Areas: Feasibility, Safety and Acceptability. Plank is an Infectious Disease and HIV specialist who trained at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She recently spoke with Martha Henry, Editor of Spotlight Continue reading →
On November 25th, 2009, Harvard President Drew Faust spent a day in Botswana, touring the clinics and lab of the Botswana–Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership. She met with doctors, researchers, and students to learn about AIDS research being conducted in southern Africa as part of Harvard’s growing commitment to global health.
8:57 a.m. President Faust arrives in Gaborone, Botswana and is greeted at the airport by Max Essex, Chair of the Botswana–Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership.
10:21 a.m. In the village of Mochudi, 20 miles northeast of Gaborone, Faust meets with Kgosi Kgolo Kgafela (right), the tribal leader, as Joseph Makhema (left), Project Director of the Botswana–Harvard Partnership (BHP) looks on. Mochudi is the site of several clinical trials being conducted by the BHP.
10:50 a.m. Faust tours the Deborah Retief Memorial Hospital in Mochudi.
10:57 a.m. In the hospital conference room, Faust listens to welcoming remarks by the medical superintendent, Charles Onyach. The hospital has 130 beds and serves a population of 80,000.
11:14 a.m. Faust walks from the hospital to nearby research clinics.
11:34 a.m. In an examination room at the BHP clinic, Faust talks to the staff about their current research in preventing mothers infected with HIV from passing the virus to their infants. The BHP recently announced results of the Mma Bana Study, which showed the lowest rate of mother-to-child transmission ever recorded for breastfeeding infants.
12:05 p.m. Faust thanks the BHP staff for the work they are doing in Mochudi.
12:49 p.m. Back in Gaborone, Faust arrives at the Botswana–Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory, located on the grounds of Princess Marina Hospital. This state-of-the-art lab is a center of AIDS research and also serves as a training facility for Harvard students, from undergraduates to post docs. Photo by Richard Feldman
1:00 p.m. Faust poses with BHP staff who are involved in AIDS training programs for doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers. From left to right: Joseph Makhema, Faust, Tendani Gaolathe, Christine Bussmann, and Richard
1:43 p.m. During lunchtime presentations, Faust learns about the research activities of the BHP from Max Essex. Areas of research include epidemiology, virology, molecular biology, immunology, genetics, clinical treatment, and social and behavioral medicine relevant to the epidemic in
3:21 p.m. Faust asks researchers about their current projects. Scott Dryden-Peterson (left in blue shirt), who received both his undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard, is conducting research on improving health outcomes for HIV-exposed infants.
3:35 p.m. Laboratory manager Sikhulile Moyo gives Faust a quick tour of the Lab. Dedicated exclusively to HIV research and treatment, the Lab is designed to handle the high-volume testing necessary for large-scale HIV interventions.
3:40 p.m. On the front steps of the BHP headquarters, Faust joins the senior staff for a quick photo.
4:11 p.m. Faust and Botswana’s Minister of Health, John Seakgosing (at head of table), discuss how Harvard and the government of Botswana can continue to collaborate on HIV/AIDS research.
6:19 p.m. Vice-Chancellor of the University of Botswana, Bojosi Othogile (center), welcomes Faust to Botswana. The two universities cooperate on student exchanges.
6:56 p.m. Former President Festus Mogae (left), whose leadership helped make Botswana a model for national AIDS programs, heartily welcomes Faust as Mompati Mmalane (center), Deputy Project Director of the BHP, looks on.
7:33 p.m. At dinner in honor of Faust’s visit to Botswana, entertainment is provided by Dikakapa, a group that performs traditionally-inspired dances and songs. Photo by Greg Kelebonye
7:58 p.m. Faust thanks the assembled doctors, researchers, and government officials who have been an integral part of the Botswana–Harvard Partnership.