One tiny vial of blood contains a remarkable amount of genetic information about both the person from whom it was drawn and infectious agents like HIV circulating at the time of the needle prick. Because HIV mutates so quickly, having access to lots of samples to study is a valuable resource.
“It’s a diamond for science,” said Sikhulile Moyo, Laboratory Manager at the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP). He was referring to the blood samples banked in the BHP freezers. “Specimens would be a more accurate term,” he corrected, “biological samples freely given to be processed for diagnosis or disease monitoring.”
Three Harvard undergraduates spent last summer at the Botswana–Harvard Partnership (BHP). Under the direction of Max Essex, Chair of HAI, the students worked in the laboratory and designed research projects. They also kept a blog. Here are a few excerpts.
The 39-year-old woman, vomiting and with severe abdominal pain, was admitted to the Emergency Room at a Botswana hospital. Prior to her arrival, she hadn’t been eating well and had lost a lot of weight. She had never been tested for HIV.
These facts were presented a few months later at the Botswana-Harvard Tumor Board meeting, held concurrently in a conference room at the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) in Gaborone, Botswana, and in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston. It was a challenge to connect the audio-visual feed between rooms 7,000 miles apart, but soon both groups were looking at the same pathology images.
For the first time this fall, the Botswana–Harvard Partnership (BHP) will host two Fulbright–Fogarty Fellows. The program, sponsored in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was established to promote the expansion of research in public health and clinical research in resource-limited settings. The first two fellows are Tessa LeCuyer and Dr. Ryan Davis. Continue reading →
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 →
Dr. Max Essex is Chair of the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative (HAI), the Lasker Professor of Health Sciences, and Chair of the Botswana-Harvard Partnership for HIV Research and Education (BHP). As the BHP celebrates its 10th anniversary, Martha Henry, Editor of Spotlight, asked Dr. Essex to reflect on past accomplishments and future goals of the BHP.Continue reading →