UNITED STATES: A partnership between the University at Buffalo and the University of Zimbabwe to train future HIV researchers in Zimbabwe has received a $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) John E. Fogarty International Center to continue the program through 2027.
The initiative, the UB-UZ HIV Pharmacology and Therapeutics Research Training Program, supports graduate students and postdoctoral fellows completing HIV research at the University of Zimbabwe Center of Excellence in Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, a lab focused on drug development and clinical pharmacology training.
UB faculty in the program serve as mentors and research collaborators for University of Zimbabwe students and faculty, helping build research infrastructure and a critical mass of HIV research scientists to, ultimately, advance public health in Zimbabwe.
“The training program was initiated to address the need for in-country research and to optimize the rollout of HIV medications in Zimbabwe, and has evolved to investigate new antiretrovirals, long-acting formulations and the treatment of comorbidities,” said Gene Morse, PharmD, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and director of the UB Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences.
“While HIV medications were primarily developed and tested in the United States and Europe, the successful use of these drugs in Zimbabwe requires additional research to investigate their use in individuals with concurrent illnesses that complicate treatment such as tuberculosis, malaria and cancer,” he said.
“Our philosophy emphasizes the key role of international education as a means to achieve better public health,” said Charles Chiedza Maponga, PharmD, director of the University of Zimbabwe Center of Excellence in Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and visiting research assistant professor in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “This approach has led to sustained outcomes at the University at Buffalo and the University of Zimbabwe, illustrating the joint value of strategic partnerships in education.”
Established in 2003, the HIV Pharmacology and Therapeutics Research Training Program has expanded to include UB and University of Zimbabwe faculty mentors in fields that range from nursing and genetics to social work and public health, as well as the publication of dozens of academic journal articles. The University of Zimbabwe Center of Excellence in Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, which was modeled after UB’s Translational Pharmacology Research Core, also created two certificate programs.
To help scale the program, the University of Zimbabwe has built a new bioinformatics center and innovation hub that complements the clinical pharmacology lab, and established a virtual hall that enables remote participation and education.
The program is also serving as the model for the construction of a national center for health care innovation and biomedical research in Zimbabwe called Health Galaxy Park.