The province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is the epicenter of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis (TB) co-epidemic in South Africa. KZN has an estimated 1.2 million HIV positive individuals, an antenatal HIV prevalence of 37.4%, and a TB notification rate of 12,900/100,000 population. In addition, 70- 80% of TB cases are HIV infected. South Africa, and KZN in particular, also has a paucity of highly trained experts (both clinicians and researchers) to tackle these twin problems. The ultimate aim of this proposal is to obtain funding for the D71 Planning Grant to put in place the components necessary to prepare and submit a D43 award, which would be used to build and extend the HIV-TB coinfection research and training program at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in Durban, South Africa, foster a new generation of African scientists, and build a site in Africa tha houses African and other scientists who are global experts in HIV-TB coinfection. Partnering with the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH), and other departments at UKZN that focus on HIV and TB research, we propose to specifically focus on post- graduate education and build on our current expertise in immunology, virology, and microbiology. We also hope to extend our expertise into new and understudied areas including bioinformatics, genomics, proteomics, lipidomics and mouse models. Researchers will not work alone in silos but instead will take multidisciplinary training and research approaches to tackle the huge public health problem facing this region. This site will have the ultimate 'Education and Training Program'offering post-graduate students (honours-level to post-doctoral scientist) an individual-centric training approach focusing on the development of independent and critical thinking, ongoing assessment and mentorship, and high-quality career support and advice. This will extend and expand in part to support individuals at the Junior Faculty Level (i.e. those on the pathway to becoming independent investigators).
We aim to identify students with drive and potential and support them through the system, while at the same time providing career guidance so that at the end of their training, they are adequately prepared to become globally competitive scientists and well aware of what future opportunities exist.
We aim for these students to become the scientists in our program that train the future generations of African scientists, and to have the leadership skills to work on and solve major HIV-TB research challenges in all areas, but specifically focusing on basic research.
UKZN aims to be a collaborative center- the ultimate 'global'destination to train in HIV-TB and participate in tacklng the key research challenges. Planning for this application involved face-to-face meetings with staff and students, in addition to brainstorming sessions to identify current gaps and future goals. Our application tackles two of the main goals of the South African Government: firstly, by promoting much-needed coinfection research on two pathogens (HIV and TB) that have devastated the region;and secondly, by focusing on building and developing a high-quality pool of post- graduate students that will be able to compete at the international level and become the future generations of African and global scientific leaders. UKZN's vision is to be the premier university of African-led scholarship!
We aim to build an human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-tuberculosis (TB) coinfection research and training program at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, located in Durban, South Africa, the epicenter of the country's HIV and TB co-epidemic. We will take a multidisciplinary approach and focus on post-graduate education with the goal of nurturing future generations of scientific leaders and ultimately build a site in Africa that house African scientists who are global experts in HIV-TB coinfection. This site will have the ultimate 'Education and Training Program'offering students an individual-centric training approach focusing on the development of independent and critical thinking, ongoing assessment and high-quality career support and advice.