The Specific Aims of Core I are: 1) To educate, train and mentor investigators from Botswana and Penn interested in global health research;and 2) To advance knowledge about HIV/AIDS and its complications in Botswana by performing high quality epidemiologic and patient-oriented research. Penn has developed strong clinical and educational programs in Botswana based primarily on PEPFAR funding, which provides the clinical base for our research. The Core provides the following services: i) Advising Penn investigators on the feasibility of studies proposed for Botswana;ii) Providing on-site supervision of research nurses and technicians;iii) Assisting with informed consent at the Ministry of Health, Botswana hospitals and Penn;iv) Collecting and processing samples for testing, storage or shipping;v) Providing office space and Internet for Core personnel;vi) Providing housing for Penn investigators while working in Botswana;and vii) Identifying collaborators at the University of Botswana and the Ministry of Health to work with Penn scientists, which is consistent with our goal of building research capacity in country. During the past 4 years, we helped the University of Botswana get its first-ever NIH grant;Penn CFAR investigators obtained 6 CFAR Developmental Grants for studies in Botswana;Penn scientists obtained 2 Doris Duke Foundation Awards, including a 5-year medical student research fellowship grant;and we obtained Gates-Merck Foundation funding for HIV-TB education, prevention and treatment of health care workers in Botswana. Currently, the Core is supporting 19 studies in Botswana. In the next funding cycle we will expand our research office and laboratory infrastrucute through construction of a building in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the University of Botswana School of Medicine; we will expand our research agenda in the areas of opportunistic infections, HIV-TB co-infections, adherence to therapy, HIV prevention, and cervical cancer in HIV infected women. Core I has enhanced the capabilities of Penn and Botswana investigators to do high quality global health research that is addressing issues that are relevant to the citizens of Botswana.
The International Core has established outstanding ties to the University of Botswana and the new School of Medicine that will enroll its first class in August 2008. Through the activities of the Core, collaborative research involving University of Botswana and Penn investigators is being performed to evaluate opportunistic infections, HIV-TB co-infection, cervical cancer in HIV infected women, and HIV prevention.
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