April 15, 2013
A University at Buffalo (UB) research team led by Gene Morse, Pharm.D., associate director of the Translational Pharmacology Core and professor of the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, traveled to Zimbabwe for a week-long series of workshops that marked the launch of two national programs, the Zimbabwe International Nanotechnology Center (ZINC) and Zimbabwe Evidence-to-Action (ETA), a project to end HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe. The workshops trained students and scientists in Zimbabwe and served as an opportunity to identify shared areas for research and prioritize research in Zimbabwe. Fourteen percent of the Zimbabwe population has both HIV and TB, and there is a pressing need for new drugs and novel formulations of existing drugs.
ZINC and ETA are the continuation of a seven-year joint effort supported by a US National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center program. Presentations and workshops focused on the roles of UB and UZ researchers, research priorities in ZINC and ETA, and training and technical assistance for Zimbabwean scientists and students.
The ETA workshop summarized data on HIV prevention through pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and treatment as prevention (TaSP), and reviewed results of HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052, which addressed HIV prevention among discordant couples. The workshop emphasized the need for strategies targeting key populations, including prisoners, commercial sex workers, men who have sex with men, and pregnant women.
Other workshops focused on building laboratory skills, bioanalytical method development; electronic health records, bioinformatics, and health information technology infrastructure necessary for ETA in the Zimbabwe health care system; and nutritional considerations for the ETA program.
Sponsors of the meetings included the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, the UB-UZ AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP), and the UZ-UB International Pharmacotherapy Education and Research Initiative (IPERI).