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Leidy Yoana Acevedo Gutiérrez
Home Country: Medellin, Antioquia - Colombia
Degree:

University of Antioquia, Doctoral Student in Biomedical Basic Sciences emphasis Microbiology and Parasitology.

Master’s degree in biomedical Basic Sciences emphasis Tropical Medicine, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia, 2015

Bachelor’s degree. Microbiologist, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia, 2009

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Juan David Rodas González

Equines as sentinels of rickettsiosis in the northwestern of Colombia

Description of the Project:Rickettsiosis is a reemerging and neglected zoonotic disease in Colombia of which its distribution is unknown. Studies on the topic have suggested that equines can be used as sentinels of the circulation of rickettsioses, for this reason, the goal of the project is to identify potential risk areas of circulation of tick-borne rickettsiosis in the northwestern region of Colombia using the equines as sentinels, with the purpose of establish preventive and control measures for this kind of disease.
 
Dunstan Eugine Achwoka
Home Country: Nairobi, Kenya
Degree:

University of Nairobi Doctoral Student

MB ChB, Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya

MSc Global Health, Duke University, Durham, USA

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr Julius Oyugi

An assessment of Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) Care among People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in Kenya

Description of the Project:This study seeks to characterize the burden of four Noncommunicable diseases (cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes mellitus and cancer) that are responsible for over 80% of morbidity and mortality among PLHIV in Kenya. Additionally, this study will assess integration of NCD care within HIV settings through assessing outcomes of screening of precancerous lesions at a large prevention program in Nairobi, Kenya. The setting will be both PLHIV in care at both general population and key population clinics. The study will utilize retrospective program cohort data. Through this study, we will determine the burden of NCDs among PLHIVs in Kenya – both general and key populations and assess the benefit of NCD integrated care within HIV settings. We seek to obtain lessons to inform implementation considerations for NCD care delivery at ART clinics.
 
Wbeimar Aguilar Jiménez
Home Country: Urrao, Antioquia - Colombia
Degree:

Universidad de Antioquia, doctoral student in Immunology focused Biomedical Basic Sciences

MSc - Immunology focused Biomedical Basic Sciences. Universidad de Antioquia. Medellín, Colombia

Bachelor in Sciences -Biologist Universidad de Antioquia. Medellín, Colombia

Supervisor: Dr. María Teresa Rugeles

Project Title:


Association of variants in vitamin D pathway and innate immune response genes with natural resistance to HIV-1 infection

Description of the Project: The HIV-1 highly exposed, but seronegative individuals (HESN) individuals make evident the existence of natural resistance mechanisms to HIV infection and they are an exceptional model for characterizing factors involved in this process. Several mechanisms of protection against HIV-1 infection have been characterized, however, these mechanisms do not explain the absence of infection in all HESNs. Hence, endogenous immunomodulators such as vitamin D should be considered as potential candidates influencing the risk of acquiring HIV infection. The role of Vitamin D during HIV-1 infection is not well documented, it could protect from HIV-1 infection in mucosa since it induces the expression antimicrobial peptides with anti-HIV-1 activity. The aim of this study is to establish an association between allelic variants in vitamin D pathway and innate immune response genes with resistance to HIV-1 infection, to measure mRNA levels of antimicrobial peptides in mucosa and to explore potential mechanisms of this association in HESN.
Julie Ambia
Home Country: Nairobi, Kenya
Degree:

PhD student (University of Nairobi)

Masters of Public Health (University of Nairobi) Bachelor of Science Nursing (University of Eastern Africa, Baraton)

Supervisor: Dr Kawango Agot, Prof Joyce Olenja and Prof Omu Anzala

Project Title:


Barriers and Facilitators of Adherence in User-Dependent Trials

Description of the Project: To date, no single adherence intervention for oral PrEP and microbicides has been shown to be effective. However, several facilitators of and barriers to adherence have been identified across trials and in different geographical locations. These facilitators and barriers vary from place to place as well as from context to context. It is necessary to examine the facilitators and barriers within the Kenyan context in order to identify which ones are relevant and which ones are not, and to identify ways to minimize the barriers in future trials. It is for this reason that a study, to determine predictors of suboptimal adherence among trial participants in FEM-PrEP and Partners PrEP is proposed.
Winnie Apidi
Home Country: Kenya
Degree:

University of Manitoba, PhD candidate, Medical Microbiology

MSc. in health and Environmental Biotechnology, University of Nairobi

BSc. in Medical Laboratory Sciences, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology, Kenya

Supervisor: Dr. Blake Ball and Dr. Frank Plummer

Project Title:


The glycolysis pathway in HIV-1 resistance

Description of the Project: Previous studies have shown down regulation of genes in key signaling pathways that HIV depends on for infection in HIV-1 resistant female commercial sex workers. One of the most under-exposed pathways was glycolysis/gluconeogenesis. My study aims at studying the difference in expression of glycolytic genes and enzymes in HIV resistant subjects and the adaptive immune response regulated by glycolytic metabolism.
Allison Balasko
Home Country: Winnipeg, Canada
Degree:

PhD Student, University of Manitoba, MD/PhD Progra

Honours Degree in Microbiology, University of Manitoba

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. Keith Fowke

Investigating the lymphocyte-activation gene 3 (LAG-3) exhaustion marker and its associated defects in invariant Natural Killer T (iNKT) immune cell function in HIV infection

Description of the Project: HIV is a global health issue, with 36.9 million HIV-infected people in 2018. HIV exhausts the infected person’s immune system to the point where it cannot properly fight infections. Understanding how to reverse this exhaustion is critical in enhancing long-term well-being of HIV-infected people. Previously, our lab has shown that a protein, lymphocyte-activation gene 3 (LAG-3), inhibits immune cells from functioning in HIV infection. Moreover, our lab has shown there is more LAG-3 on immune cells called invariant Natural Killer T (iNKT) cells of HIV-infected people. iNKT cells are essential to a healthy immune response; if iNKT cells do not function properly due to LAG-3, the immune system cannot work optimally. My project will determine if by blocking LAG-3, we will remove its exhaustive effects, allowing iNKT cells to work properly, helping to restore the immune system in HIV-infected people.
Lisa Marie Baspaly
Home Country: Canada
Degree:

BSc Biology- University of Winnipeg

MSc Entomology - University of Manitoba

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. L. Robbin Lindsay

Vector competence of mosquitoes in Canada for West Nile virus

Description of the Project: The vector competence of ten mosquito species that have tested positive for West Nile virus in Canada will be assessed. Vertical transmission and aspects of the effect of temperature on the extrinsic incubation period will also be examined for each species. In the case of low or non-transmission, an attempt to identify the physiological transmission barrier will be made, via salivary gland and midgut dissection.
Dione Benjumea Bedoya
Home Country: Colombia
Degree:

PhD - University of Antioquia, Public Health

Physician and Master in Epidemiology from University of Antioquia

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr María Patricia Arbeláez Montoya

Assessment of the effectiveness and adherence to treatment for latent tuberculosis infection in children under 5 years of age, household contacts of pulmonary tuberculosis patients in Medellín

Description of the Project: Despite the availability of medicines for the cure of tuberculosis since 1940, TB remains a major cause of death from a single infectious agent worldwide. LTBI treatment for children under 5 years of age, household contacts of TB patients is an important measure for the control of tuberculosis in this age group, but it is unknown how effective this measure specifically in Medellin. The purpose of this study is to evaluate effectiveness and factors related to LTBI treatment adherence in children under five years of age, household contacts of pulmonary tuberculosis patients in Medellín. This new knowledge will strengthen the TB control program, for the management of children under 5 years of age, household contacts of pulmonary tuberculosis patients in his/her family and community.
Catherine Card
Home Country: Canada
Degree:

University of Manitoba, PhD

Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from University of Manitoba

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. Keith Fowke

Regulatory T cells and Immune Quiescence: a model for resistance to HIV infection

Description of the Project: Emerging data from our lab suggests that resistance to HIV infection is associated with low levels of immune activation, a phenotype we have termed Immune Quiescence. My project focuses on the role that regulatory T cells play in controlling immune activation. We have shown that HIV-resistant commercial sex workers have elevated frequencies of regulatory T cells and lower frequencies of activated T cells. By reducing T cell activation, thus limiting the pool of susceptible target cells available for infection by HIV, regulatory T cells may play a key role in mediating Immune Quiescence and resistance to HIV infection.
Claudyne Chevrier
Home Country: Canada
Degree:

University of Manitoba, Doctoral student

M.Sc. Santé communautaire, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada
B.Sc. Anthropologie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. James Blanchard and Dr. Robert Lorway

Sexual and reproductive health of female sex workers in Winnipeg: an ethnographic exploration of their needs and choices

Description of the Project: Considering that STIs and HIV can cause adverse pregnancy outcomes (including stillbirth, congenital syphilis and mother to child transmission of HIV), a better understanding of the reproductive healthcare needs and choices of FSWs is urgently needed. The same complex structural forces—including socioeconomic background, policy and legal contexts, and gender-based violence and harassment—that research has shown to make Canadian SWs more vulnerable to STIs and HIV infection, can lead to other sexual and reproductive health complications. In Winnipeg, programs and literature on the sex trade focus on “survival sex”, street-based sex work, and on children and adults who have been highly exploited or trafficked. However, little is known about adult SWs who neither seek to exit the trade nor define their practices in terms of “survival sex” or “exploitation”, as well as on SWs who operate in in-door (home, brothel and massage-parlour) settings or through the internet. Using a qualitative ethnographic approach, the proposed study will examine the sexual and reproductive health needs and choices of adult FSWs in Winnipeg.
Nadia Chanzu
Home Country: Kenya
Degree:

University of Nairobi Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases, PhD

Masters of Science in Biomedical Science, Kingston University, London, UK

Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from University of Nairobi, Kenya

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Prof. Walter Mwanda, Prof. Omu Anzala,and Dr. Julius Oyugi

Secretor Status, FUT2 Polymorphisms and the Risk of Infection by HIV and HPV in Female Sex Workers in Kenya

Description of the Project: While blood antigens are often considered with regards to their expression on red blood cells, the secretor phenotype relates to the expression profile of blood antigens on the surface of epithelial cells and in mucosal secretions. This phenotype is determined by the ‘Secretor’ gene also known as the FUT2 gene; The FUT2 gene is of particular interest owing to the fact that there are now well established correlations between secretor status, FUT2 polymorphisms, and the susceptibility to bacterial and viral infections. Because of the importance of immunity to mucosal infections, my study will investigate the association between secretor status, FUT2 gene polymorphisms, and the risk of infection by HIV and HPV in a well-established high-risk population, female sex workers in Kenya.

Dhanunjaya Rao Chintada
Home Country: India
Degree:

Kuvempu University, PhD

Masters Degree in Social Work, Andhra University, DNR College of PG department, Bhimavaram, India

Field Leader in Public Health Fellowship from Center for Decease Control (CDC), USAID and PHMI

Supervisor:


Project Title:

Dr. Chandrashekar.E, Lecturer, Dept. of Adult Continuing Education, Extension and Field Outreach, Kuvempu University, Shankaraghatta

Interrelation between Stigma, discrimination and impact on utilization of care and support services- A study among HIV Seropositive Men having sex with Men and Transgender (MSM- T) in Karnataka

Description of the Project: The proposed research is to study the Interrelation between Stigma, discrimination and impact on utilization of care and support services including HIV testing and disclosure, access to ART services and management of other opportunistic infections.

Suresh S Chitrapu
Home Country: India
Degree:

Kuvempu University, PhD

M. Phil in Social Work Vinayaka University Salem

PG diploma in Personal Management Bhavan’s University Mangalore

Master degree in Social Work (MSW) School of social work Roshani Nilaya Mangalore University; Bachelor of Arts in Vijaya College Mulki

Supervisor:


Project Title:

Dr. Chandrashekar.E, Kuvempu University, Shimoga Karnataka. India

A study on “Violence among women living with HIV AIDS in Karnataka

Description of the Project: The study explores to obtain reliable estimates of the prevalence of different forms of violence against women living with HIV AIDS. The focus of this study is to document the health consequences of violence against women living with HIV (reproductive health, mental health, injuries, general use of health services). It also expected to reveal strategies adopted by women living with HIV to address the different forms of violence.

François (Frank) Cholette
Home Country: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Degree:

PhD Student, University of Manitoba

MPH, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

BSc – Biotechnology, Department of Applied Sciences, La Cité Collégiale

Supervisor:


Project Title:

Lyle McKinnon, PhD and Marissa Becker, MD FRCPC MSc

An integrated approach to understanding HIV transmission dynamics from viral genomic data.

Description of the Project: Viral genomic analysis takes advantage of the relatively constant rate of HIV evolution over time and provides a useful snapshot of HIV transmission dynamics over time, geography as well as within and between population, which can be used to model potential interventions that could prevent future transmission events. By providing molecular linkages between infections, viral genomic analyses can add additional context to factors identified through behavioral modelling to improve overall efficacy of intervention strategies. However, many viral genomic studies focus on individual-level demographic and behavioral data despite the fact that biological, structural and environmental factors play a significant role in shaping transmission networks at the population level. My current research interests involve understanging HIV transmission dynamics among vulnerable populations using viral genomics based approaches that are congruent with broader, interdisciplinary, research programs seeking to address the national and global spread of infectious diseases like HIV.

Astrid Vanessa Cienfuegos Gallet
Home Country: Colombia
Degree:

University of Antioquia, PhD, Epidemiology

BSc Microbiology, University of Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia

MSc Biomedical Basics Sciences, University of Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Helena del Corral L., Ph.D and J. Natalia Jiménez, Ph.D.

Molecular epidemiology, clinical and economic outcomes of carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, Enterobacter cloacae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii infections in five tertiary care hospitals in Medellín, Colombia.

Description of the Project: Antimicrobial drug resistance is now recognized as a major threat to global health security with potentially devastating clinical and economic consequences. Amongst resistant microorganisms, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacter cloacae, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa have become a serious health threat worldwide due to their rapid spread in communities and hospitals. However, dissemination of resistance is difficult to assess because evidence from common surveillance systems is sparse and limited by unreliable phenotypic susceptibility tests, particularly in resource constrained settings. Hence, performance of research projects on the molecular epidemiology of resistant microorganisms contribute to more detailed knowledge on the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance mechanisms which helps to strengthen local surveillance programs and thus control antibiotic resistance efficiently. The research project of my thesis aims to describe the epidemiology and main resistance mechanisms of the four carbapenem-resistant bacteria listed above and to assess the impact of these infections on clinical and economic outcomes in five major hospitals in Medellín, Colombia.

Elizabeth Cooper
Home Country: Canada
Degree:

University of Manitoba,PhD

Previous degrees: Winnipeg, Manitoba. BA Adv. Religious Studies, University of Manitoba, MA, Native Studies, University of Manitoba

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. S Michelle Driedger, University of Manitoba

Culturally Relevant HIV/AIDS Prevention Programming within Canadian Aboriginal Contexts

Description of the Project: Within the Canadian context, Aboriginal people represent 3% of the Canadian population, yet in 2002, they represented 28% of new HIV/AIDS diagnosis. Recognizing that historical trends and experiences, such as colonialism impact the way in which biomedicine is approached within Aboriginal contexts, the need for culturally effective interventions and clear communication strategies to present health-related information becomes of utmost importance. Health promotion begins with the premises that knowledge translation is important: beyond this, health promotion must recognize that what constitutes effective programming at one level of an intervention many not necessarily be the same for the different levels of programming. This project, in cooperation with non-profit health promotion organizations, will work towards narrowing this gap.

Kallesh Danappa Jayappa
Home Country: India
Degree:

University of Manitoba, PhD

Master of veterinary science, IVRI-Mukteswar, India. Bachelors of veterinary science, UAS-Bangalore, India.

Supervisor: Dr XiaoJian Yao, Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba

Project Title:


The molecular mechanism of HIV-1 nuclear import: the role of HIV-1 integrase in targeting host nuclear import machinery and delivering viral cDNA into nucleus.

Description of the Project: The active delivery of HIV-1 cDNA into nucleus of infected cells by hijacking the host nuclear import machinery is a unique characteristic that distinguishes HIV-1 from some of other retroviruses. The nuclear import of viral cDNA allows HIV-1 to infect terminally differentiated macrophages as well as dividing CD4+ T-cells at interphase; contributing to the tremendous replication potential of HIV-1, as evident in infected individuals. However, the interplay between viral/cellular factors and the underlying molecular mechanism of HIV nuclear import is still not clear. My study is aimed at elucidating the key nuclear import factors targeted by HIV-1 IN for successful delivery of viral cDNA into nucleus, and their molecular mechanism of interaction. The proper understanding of HIV-1 nuclear import would help to design novel anti-HIV strategies that terminate viral replication at a step prior to integration and strengthen the present anti-HIV treatment regimen.

Arup Kumar Das
Home Country: India
Degree:

International Institute for Population Sciences, PHD program

Supervisor:

Project Title:

International Institute for Population Sciences, PHD program

Psychosocial, Behavioral and Contextual Determinants of STI/HIV Vulnerability among Female Workers in Bars: A life cycle approach

Description of the Project: A significant proportion of girls working in the Bars of Mumbai are also involved into sex work and have a different characteristic in comparison with the other non-brothel based sex workers. Deep-rooted poverty at the peripheral states and other countries creates a complex social environment, which tended them to migrate to Mumbai. Over time, factors such as higher aspiration to earn quick money and greater demand for sexual services due to presence of large number single male migrants increase their risk taking attitude and behavior. Subsequently, a lower capacity to adopt safe sexual practices increases their vulnerability of STIs/HIV and expected to contribute significantly in the existing pace of the epidemic in the city of Mumbai Under this backdrop the proposed to explore how individual level behavioral risk factors are influenced by psychosocial, structural and contextual factors.
Elsabé du Plessis
Home Country: Born in South Africa
Degree:

University of Manitoba, PhD student
BA (Hons) Psychology from Stellenbosch University (South Africa)
M.Sc in Community Health Sciences (University of Manitoba)


Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. Robert R Lorway and Dr. Sharon Bruce

HIV vaccine acceptability among vulnerable populations in Kenya

Description of the Project: A vaccine that could safely and effectively prevent infection with HIV would benefit groups most affected by the disease - such as female sex workers (FSW) - since it would provide a prevention method within their control that did not need negotiation at every sexual encounter. These women are over-represented in new HIV infections partly due to stigma, discrimination and other socio-political factors. Though Kenya’s HIV epidemic is considered to be “generalized” with 7.8% of the general population estimated to be infected, FSW still account for a disproportionally high number of new infections, up to seven times higher than in the general population. Although these groups would benefit greatly from a future HIV vaccine we lack the knowledge for planning effective vaccination campaigns. The proposed project will examine the political, social and historical processes that have shaped health disparities in Kenya and influences people’s perceptions and use of healthcare and HIV prevention services to inform future program planning.
Sumit Dutta
Home Country: India
Degree:

Dr. K. N. Modi University, India, doctoral student
B.A. English (Honours), University of Delhi
M.A. Sociology from IGNOU

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. Robert R Lorway

Following the Divine in a time of AIDS: Jogappas Confronts the HIV Epidemic in Karnataka

Description of the Project: The study intends to generate new knowledge about the highly marginalized and socially disenfranchised Jogappa community. This indigenous group (Jogappa) has been largely ignored in the social science and public health literature in comparison to other sexual and gender minority communities. They found little or no mention in the vast literature concerning sexual and gender minority vis-à-vis transgender community. The study holds the potential to make a unique contribution to gender and sexuality studies in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, and more urgently, this study will generate invaluable demographic and health information that will enable policy makers to address the specific social and health inequities encountered by these communities.
Jasmine Frost
Home Country: Manitoba, Canada
Degree:

University of Manitoba, Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, PhD
M.Sc. in Microbiology- University of Manitoba
B.Sc. in Microbiology- University of Manitoba

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. Alberto Severini

Investigation of mumps outbreak trends in Canada through whole genome sequencing and testing of vaccine cross-reactivity to the current circulating mumps strain

Description of the Project: The Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine was introduced in to Canada’s vaccination program in 1983, and yet mumps has remained endemic with a recent resurgence affecting mostly young vaccinated adults. This project aims to fully investigate the mumps epidemic in Canada to provide critical information that will influence future vaccination and outbreak policy to eliminate endemic mumps from Canada. Whole genome sequencing will be used to determine virus evolution and mutation rate. This data will be paired with epidemiological data such as age, sex, and geographical location to try and identify populations who may be more at risk during a mumps outbreak. Additionally, the current vaccine (genotype A) will be tested for its efficacy to give rise to neutralizing antibodies against the current circulating mumps strain (genotype G).
Jesse Njihia Gitaka
Home Country: Kenya
Degree:

University of Nairobi, PhD student
Masters in Tropical Medicine from Nagasaki University, Japan
An alumnus of the University of Nairobi Medical School

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Prof. Walter Jaoko, Prof. Matilu Mwau

Surveillance for artemether-lumefantrine clinical response, lumefantrine in vitro sensitivity and molecular markers of tolerance in currently circulating Plasmodium falciparum isolates in Kenya

Description of the Project: Malaria continues to be a major public health burden with about 3 billion people at risk worldwide, 28 million of them in Kenya. Following the introduction of artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) in the malaria control armamentarium, declining rates have been reported in many areas. The recent emergence of artemisinin resistant P. falciparum malaria in South East Asia therefore is a big threat towards realising elimination and eventual eradication. Strategies to protect artemisinins from parasite resistance include use of effective combination partner drugs that have longer half lifes to ensure complete parasite clearance and safeguard against selection for tolerant clones. This study aims to evaluate the current circulating P. falciparum isolates in Kenya for Artemether/Lumefantrine therapeutic efficacy, in vitro sensitivity to lumefantrine, correlate these with established molecular markers of lumefantrine tolerance and provide baseline data for future reference.
Kathleen Glover
Home Country: Ghana
Degree:

University of Manitoba. PhD student, 3rd year
MPhil Microbiology- University of Ghana
B.Sc. Medical laboratory Sciences- University of Ghana

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. Kevin Coombs

Comparative study of host cell proteomic changes after Zika virus infection

Description of the Project: On Feb 1, 2016, the World Health Organization declared Zika virus a public health threat because it was spreading rapidly in the Americas and was suspected to be causing a high incidence of birth defects in infants born by infected mothers. Gaining more understanding of the host proteins that are essential during Zika virus replication will reveal potential cellular targets that will be useful in development of vaccines as well as rapid diagnostic kit. Thus, the focus of my study is to identify host proteins that are significantly dysregulated during Zika virus infection and determine their role during its replicative cycle.
Sandra Milena Gonzalez Diaz
Home Country: Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Degree:

Universidad de Antioquia, doctoral student
Microbiologist, Universidad de Antioquia, 2010
Master in Basic and Biomedical Sciences, Universidad de Antioquia, 2015

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. Maria Teresa Rugeles López

Role of Vitamin D in natural resistance to HIV-1 infection: effects on viral transmission during HIV-1 exposure

Description of the Project: Immunomodulatory molecules such as vitamin D could modulate the immune response triggered at mucosal level during the exposure to the HIV-1 reducing the viral transmission. In this regard, we propose to evaluate the functional effect of the VitD in an in vitro model of HIV-1 exposure contributing to understand the resistance phenomenon.
Colin Graydon
Home Country: Born in Milton (Ontario), Canada
Degree:

U of Manitoba, PhD candidate
BSc Microbiology and Immunology at UBC (British Columbia)

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. Keith Fowke

Assessment of the LAG-3 Inhibitory Mechanism on T cell Activation

Description of the Project: HIV infection, like many other persistent infections, causes chronic immune activation, which can lead to a type of immune dysfunction known as functional exhaustion. Exhaustion is characterized by the impaired function of T cells, which are vital immune cells for infection control, and T cell expression of exhaustion markers, which contribute to the functional impairment of these cells. LAG-3 is one such exhaustion marker, but the mechanism it uses to impair T cell function is currently unknown. The aim of my project is to shed light this mechanism, including determining whether LAG-3 interferes with the internal signaling of the cell and/or with the cell’s ability to recognize the infection properly. This information would be crucial to understanding the effects and implications of LAG-3 in HIV and other diseases with chronic immune activation.
Chris Green
Home Country: Canada
Degree: B.A Sociology--University of Winnipeg

Supervisor:


Project Title:

Dr. Robert Hoppa

My primary PhD research is originally focusing on the modeling of the diabetes epidemic through time and space in Manitoba. I am currently enrolled in the interdisciplinary PhD program at the University of Manitoba.

Description of the Project: Over the ICID Training course, however, I will be undertaking a number of research projects in a variety of infectious disease areas including enteric infections (Salmonella, E-Coli 157, Campylobacter), and mosquito borne infections (West Nile Virus). These will occur through my ICID practicum at Cadham provincial laboratory as well as through my work as a part-time surveillance epidemiologist in the Public Health Branch, Manitoba Health.
Deepesh Gupta
Home Country: India
Degree: Birla Institute of Technology and science(BITS), India Doctoral student

Post-Graduation Diploma in Training & Development (PGDT&D)

M.Phil in Health System Management (HSM)

Masters in Health Administration (MHA)

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. Sushanta K Banerjee, Ipas India

Unintended pregnancies and risk of unsafe abortion: Men’s Perspective & involvement – A study among married males of Uttar Pradesh

Description of the Project: Men in India play an important role in most decisions pertaining to family life, including family size and family planning. Strong son preference, lack of inter spouse communication related to reproductive and sexual health matters, decision to use contraceptive by men, low mobility of women are the few determinants that leads to unplanned and unwanted pregnancies which often results into unsafe abortion. The proposed research is to understand the perceptions of men to induced abortion and contraceptive use within marriage. It will also determine the risk perception of unwanted pregnancy & unsafe abortion among married males in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Breanne Head
Home Country: Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Degree:

U of Manitoba, Doctoral Student 3rd year

BSc(hons) in Microbiology, University of Manitoba

Master’s degree in Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. Yoav Keynan

Legionella pneumonia in HIV-infected individuals: Understanding lung inflammation, lung dysfunction and disease

Description of the Project: Pneumonia remains the most common cause of hospital admissions each year among HIV-infected individuals with bacterial pneumonia cited as the most frequent lung infection associated with HIV. Typically, HIV-associated bacterial pneumonias are due to Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenza, Staphylococcus aureus or Mycobacterium tuberculosis. However, in many cases, the infectious culprit is not identified and patients are treated empirically. As such, alternative pneumonia-causing agents, such as Legionella spp., are estimated to be underreported and consequently have been understudied. Thus, this study aims to better understand Legionella pneumonia and how it contributes to lung inflammation, lung dysfunction and disease, with the goal of translating this knowledge to targeted therapy and improved outcomes for people living with HIV co-infections.

Mariana Herrera Díaz
Home Country: Planeta Rica, Córdoba, Colombia
Degree:

Universidad de Antioquia, doctoral student in Epidemiology, third year

Microbiologist, Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia, 2008

Master in Basic and Biomedical Sciences, Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia, 2014

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. Zulma Rueda

Cytokines / Chemokines and pro-inflammatory gene expression profiles associated with Latent Tuberculosis Infection in prisoners

Description of the Project: Diagnostic tests for Latent Tuberculosis Infection (tuberculin and IGRAs) present difficulties, so new immune substances are screened. In this regard, we propose to determine the plasma cytokines / chemokines profile and pro-inflammatory gene expression of prisoners associated with LTBI and compare it with people with active TB, and people exposed to M. tuberculosis without infection. Detecting differences in the expression of recent converters in the tuberculin test could help to discover an immune signal used as a potential diagnostic biomarker, a protective factor or an indicator of progression to M. tuberculosis infection.

Shehzad Iqbal
Home Country: Canada
Degree: BSc --University of Calgary
MSc--University of Calgary
Supervisor:



Project Title:

Dr. Frank Plummer
Professor, Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba

Mucosal immunity in HIV Resistant sex workers

Description of the Project: In sub-Saharan Africa, the major route of transmission of HIV occurs through heterosexual contact. Understanding the immune system of the female genital tract where the initial site of infection occurs is essential for the development of successful therapeutic interventions. The goal of my project is to identify and characterize potential mechanisms of immunity to HIV found at the mucosal level in HIV resistant sex workers from the Pumwani cohort. In doing so, we hope to artificailly induce these same responses as a potential vaccine design.

 
HeZhao Ji
Home Country: China
Degree: MD--ZhangJiaKou Medical College
MSc Immunology--HeBei Medical University
Supervisor:


Project Title:

Dr. Frank Plummer
Professor, Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba

Association of Interferon Regulatory factor-1 polymorphism with Resistance to HIV-1 Infection in Kenyan Female Sex Workers

Description of the Project:Originally identified as a transcription activator of IFN-beta, Interferon Regulatory Factor 1 (IRF-1) has now been shown to be a critical factor in both innate and adaptive immunity against viral infection. It was also shown to be able to initiate and promote HIV-1 transcription by interacting with HIV-1 3' LTR directly. Here, we hypothesize that IRF-1 is a critical factor in mediating resistance to HIV-1 infection, and the IRF-1 gene variations are directly responsible. To demonstrate this, comparative genetic sequencing will be conducted for the screening of IRF-1 gene polymorphisms in the target population. The association between IRF-1 gene variation and HIV-1 resistance will be determined and the underlying biological mechanisms that may contribute to this association will be explored.
 
Meshack Juma
Home Country: Homa Bay County of Kenya
Degree: University of Nairobi, Doctoral student
Bsc. Medical Microbiology from JomoKenyatta University and Msc. Medical Microbiology from University of Nairobi (UoN)
Supervisor:


Project Title:

Professor Omu Anzala

Antimicroial susceptibility testing and molecular characterization of Neisseria gonorrheae isolates from patients with genital discharge in Nairobi, Kenya

Description of the Project: The emergence of multidrug resistant gonococcal infection is one of the most important public health problems today. Gonococcal infections have serious effects on reproductive, maternal and neonatal health. Effective antimicrobial therapy forms an essential component in the management of gonococcal infection. However, over recent years, the gonococcus has rapidly acquired resistance to commonly used antibiotics and very few treatment options remain; hence, regular monitoring of antimicrobial resistance is very important. In many East Africa settings syndromic treatment of N. gonorrhoeae has been used in disease management, this raising great concern for the antimicrobial pattern of the bacteria is not properly documented. This study will make contributions to the global goals and address Antimicrobial resistance, which is a threat to the treatment of gonorrhea.
 
Jennifer Juno
Home Country: Canada
Degree: U of Manitoba, PhD
Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Keith Fowke


The Role of Genetic Polymorphisms at the CD4 locus in HIV disease progression
Description of the Project: I am studying how polymorphisms in genes surrounding CD4 can impact HIV progression. A SNP in a signaling gene has been associated with delayed disease progression in a Kenyan cohort, and I am interested in the mechanism by which this SNP affects the immune response to HIV. I am also interested in the linkage between this SNP and transcription of other immune-related genes at the CD4 locus, and the impact it might have on the adaptive immune response to HIV.
 
Yoav Keynan
Home Country: Canada
Degree: MD, Ben-Gurion, Faculty of Health Sciences (1995)
Specialty, Internal Medicine, Carmel Medical Center- Haifa, Israel, 2004
Sub-specialty, Infectious Diseases, University of Manitoba 2007-2009
PhD Student,
Infectious Diseases consultant, Dept. Internal Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases
Infectious Diseases consultant, Manitoba HIV program
Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Keith Fowke


Immunogenetic factors associated with Influenza cross-protection and disease severity
Description of the Project: Influenza causes significant morbidity and mortality. Understanding the antibody and cell mediated cross-reactive responses to circulating strains of the virus and to influenza vaccines are the main goals of the research. In addition, immunogenetic factors that influence the severity and outcome of infection are being studied in several cohorts of immunocompetent and immunocompromised hosts.
 
Marion Wangui Kiguoya
Home Country: Kenya
Degree: University of Nairobi Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases, Ph.D. student in Infectious Diseases
Supervisor:


Project Title:
Blake Ball, Prof Thumbi Ndungu, Dr Joshua Kimani


A study to correlate longterm non progresors HIV-1 isolate viral fitness in highly exposed persistently seronegative (heps) versus low risk negatives individuals and its association with HLA subtypes.
Description of the Project: In Majengo, commercial sex worker cohort Nairobi susceptibility to HIV-1 has been demonstrated, where some of the highly exposed subjects remain persistently seronegative, indicative of resistance to HIV -1. Understanding the specific immune responses conferring protection from infection in individuals exposed to HIV-1 is critical for vaccine design. This study intends to evaluate the protective immunity of the HEPS in light of viral fitness and its correlation to HLA alleles. The study will entail isolation of HIV -1 virus from the LTNP and transinfect PBMCs isolated from the HEPS and low risk individuals who are HIV negative assessing the ability to the virus to yield progeny by measuring the P24 antigen using ELISA. The study will further determine mutations and correlate with the specific HLA alleles associated with viral fitness by real time PCR.
 
Alvin Kinji Mwabu
Home Country: Meru County, Kenya
Degree: University of Nairobi, doctoral student 3 years

Msc Medical Microbiology, ITROMID-Kemri campus, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)

Bsc Medical Laboratory Sciences (Bsc MLS), Institute of tropical and Infectious Diseases (ITROMID), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)
Supervisor:


Project Title:
Prof. Walter Jaoko, Dr. Ndemi John Kiiru, Dr. Christine Bii


Drug resistance and molecular characterization of Staphylococci species: An investigation of causes of cough in Ex—TB and smear negative patients in high TB prevalence counties: the case of Kenya.
Description of the Project: Pulmonary and respiratory diseases are highly prevalent globally. They are the fourth leading cause of morbidity and mortality in humans. Majority of these diseases are of viral etiology but co-infection with secondary bacterial pathogens is on the rise. Staphylococcus species constitute a large family of respiratory tract normal flora. Colonization of this anatomical site is a prerequisite for subsequent acute Staphylococcal respiratory diseases. Moreover, Staphylococcal MDR including CA-MRSA and HA-MRSA is of profound clinical significance. Staphylococcal respiratory diseases coupled with MDR is a serious threat to global health and the fight against respiratory diseases. In this study, I envisage to explore the role of Staph. Species in Ex-TB cases, determine their Antimicrobial susceptibility, examine the resistance genetic relatedness and determine the level/degree of vancomycin resistance as the best alternative regimen for Staphylococcal Multi Drug Resistance
 
Sandra Koesters
Home Country: Canada
Degree: PhD - University of Manitoba
BSc--University of Manitoba
Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Keith R. Fowke


The role of immune activation in HIV disease progression
Description of the Project: My project focuses on the mechanisms of rapid disease progression in HIV. I am primarily interested in immune activation and the impact it has on apoptosis (activation induced cell death), T-cell memory homeostasis, and HIV specific T-cell memory responses. I examine these areas at the population level using two cohort with varying rates of HIV disease progression.
 
Monika Marie Kowatsch
Home Country: Winnipeg, Canada
Degree: University of Manitoba, Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, doctoral candidate

Bachelor of Science from the University of Manitoba in the Department of Microbiology with minors in Biology, Chemistry and German.
Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Keith R. Fowke


The effect of immune status on HIV risk and disease progression: immune quiescence and immune activation the teetertotter effect of the immune response and HIV
Description of the Project: Despite advances in treatment and prevention options HIV infection rates remain high with 1.8 million new infections occurring yearly. Immune activation, or inflammation, is a known risk factor for HIV, conversely, decreased baseline inflammation or Immune Quiescence (IQ) has been associated with decreased risk of HIV seroconversion. My research project will focus on both sides of the inflammation vs immune quiescence question; (1) in collaboration with Sunshine House (a community-based organization in Winnipeg Manitoba) we will determine the effect of long-term solvent use on inflammation and HIV risk, and (2) with our community partners in Nairobi Kenya we will assess the ability of anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aspirin to induce an immune quiescence state and potentially protect from HIV infection. These findings will help determine the role of solvent use in HIV risk and assess the feasibility of implementations of preventing inflammation to prevent infection.
 
Maureen Kugo Chepchirchir
Home Country: Eldoret, Kenya
Degree: University of Nairobi, Doctoral student

MSc. Biotechnolology, University of Nairobi

BSc. Biochemistry, University of Nairobi
Supervisor:


Project Title:
Prof. Elijah Maritim


A Novel Nutritional Approach to National School-based Deworming Programmes
Description of the Project: Soil transmitted helminthes (STHs) and schistosomiasis are among the world's neglected tropical diseases. Morbidity due to these parasites is greatest in school-age children who typically have the highest burden of infection. In 2001, WHO passed a resolution for the use of large-scale mass drug administration (MDA) to deworm vulnerable children through school based programs. Though effective, there is concern that MDA might not be sustainable over extended periods. Additionally, the current MDA strategy does not consider child malnutrition, a very common affliction in resource limited countries. The aim of this study is to develop an intervention which bundles the school deworming and feeding programs to produce an affordable and sustainable treatment alternative with a minimal chance of development of resistance. Porridge flour will be enhanced with flour of the Carica papaya seed and given to school children, the efficacy of this intervention will be compared to the conventional MDA; albendazole and preziquantel.
 
Zipporah Machuki
Home Country: Kenya
Degree: U of Manitoba Doctoral Student
Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Terry Blake Ball


Differentiating Toll-Like Receptor (TLR) 7 and TLR8 responses in lymphocyte population contained in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and their effect on HIV replication invitro
Description of the Project: In 2014 about 36.9 million people were living with HIV/AIDS worldwide and there were approximately 2.0 million new HIV infections. The design of a vaccine that can prevent HIV infection remains a global priority. Susceptibility to HIV has been shown to depend on the inflammation level and availability of target cells mainly CD4+ T cells that express CCR5 and a4ß7 genital mucosa while in human peripheral blood, CD4+ T cells expressing CCR6+ are most permissive to HIV infection. However, the mechanism leading to immune activation in HIV infections remain poorly understood. This study aims to assess the effect of toll like receptor 7 and 8 stimulation of innate T lymphocytes, on immune activation and HIV infection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs).
 
Jehidys Montiel Ramos
Home Country: Colombia
Degree: University of Antioquia, PhD student -Epidemiology
MSc. Biomedical Basics Sciences, University of Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia
B.A. Microbiologist, School of Microbiology, University of Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia
Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Alberto Tobón Castaño


Prevalence and risk factors of asymptomatic Plasmodium spp. infections in two different endemic malaria regions in Antioquia, (Colombia), 2017
Description of the Project: Malaria is a global public health problem. One of the main challenges for successful control programs is the detection of asymptomatic infections, which represent silent reservoirs of the parasite. For the other hand, these kind infections increase the risk of developing chronic anemia and have been associated with increased inflammation and chronic endothelial activation, whose long-term consequences are unknown. Given the importance of asymptomatic infections in maintaining transmission of the parasite, potential adverse effects on carriers, the lack of knowledge about the epidemiology, individual factors, and socioeconomic context associated with asymptomatic infections in Colombia and particularly in the department of Antioquia, the findings of this study provide useful information for the design and implementation of control measures according to the profiles of each endemic area.
 
Sajid Mahmood
Home Country: Pakistan and Canada
Degree: University of Manitoba, PhD
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Pakistan
MS- Kansas State University, USA
Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Sam Kung


Examining NK – DC Crosstalk in NK differentiation and functional properties of NK cells
Description of the Project: Therapeutic potential of NK-DC crosstalk in the management and control of infectious diseases has been an evolving concept in the field of biology. My project will formally and systematically examine whether DCs are involved in NK progenitor differentiation. Understanding DCs role in NK differentiation, particularly in peripheral tissues might provide new insights into NK biology and help us device better therapeutic approaches against infectious agents homing these tissues.
 
Leigh McClarty
Home Country: Canada
Degree: University of Manitoba, Doctoral student

BSc (Hons) in Microbiology & Zoology from the University of Manitoba

MSc in Community Health Sciences from the University of Manitoba

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. James Blanchard; Co-supervisor: Dr. Marissa Becker


Understanding healthcare priorities of young women involved in sex work in Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine: Implications for preventive HIV programming
Description of the Project: Recent research suggests that existing HIV prevention program models, which have been successful in providing health services to older and/or well-established female sex workers, often miss young women who are just entering into sex work. It is now necessary to tailor HIV prevention programs to better reach women at the start of their sex work careers, and a critical aspect of understanding how to link new and young sex workers into preventive HIV services will be to gain a deeper understanding of their personal healthcare priorities prior to and immediately upon entering into sex work. This study, focusing on the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhya, will explore young women’s self-identified healthcare priorities before and immediately following entry into sex work. Although HIV is likely a concern for women involved in sex work, it may not be a specific priority in the early stages of their sex work careers. Additionally, my research aims to determine whether HIV risk is different between women who do and do not identify HIV prevention as a personal healthcare priority. It is my hope that this study will contribute to an important, yet poorly understood area in HIV prevention, and that findings from this work can be used to inform policy and HIV prevention program design to begin to address the unique needs of new and young sex workers, globally.
 
Cisily Meeme
Home Country: Kenya
Degree: University of Nairobi, Doctoral student

MSc. Medical virology - Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology

BSc. Microbiology - Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Elijah M. Songok , Dr. T. Blake Ball , Prof. James Ochanda


Evaluation of Drug Resistance Profiles and Viral Characteristics in HIV-1 Viruses from Infected Patients Before and After Receiving Antiretroviral Therapy
Description of the Project: The scale-up of ART has been associated with a rise in antiretroviral resistance, a major cause of treatment failure. The population involved in this study has been treated since 2005 and there is need to assess the impact of ART availability in drug resistance instances. Since studies have shown HIV-1 non-B subtypes dominate in this population determination of antiretroviral resistance profiles will be useful in development of surveillance and monitoring tools specific to the local epidemic. The specific role played by primary and/or secondary mutations will be explored because understanding drug resistance in a commercial sex worker cohort plays an important role in evaluating risk of transmission to the general population. Other factors such as the role of cell-associated and cell-free HIV-1 and variation in infectious virus population will be explored for possible influence on treatment failure.
 
Dessalegn Melesse
Home Country: Born in Ethiopia
Degree: University of Manitoba, PhD candidate

M.Sc., University of Manitoba, Canada

Postgraduate Diploma, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (host institution: University of Cape Town), South Africa

B.Ed., Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia

Supervisor:


Project Title:
James Blanchard


Understanding heterogeneity in HIV transmission dynamics among key populations at highest risk of acquisition.
Description of the Project: The HIV epidemic in Pakistan is most concentrated among key populations (KPs) at highest risk of acquisition, specifically people who inject drugs (PWIDs) and sex workers (female, male and transgender). So far, most of the epidemic is concentrated in PWIDs, where the HIV prevalence has reached very high levels. There is evidence to suggest that a significant proportion of sex workers have interacted with PWIDs through sexual or drug injecting networks, thus augmenting their own risk of HIV acquisition. As a result, there is a growing concern that the Pakistan’s HIV epidemic will increase substantially among sex workers, and with increasing sexual transmission to other segments of the population through their clients and other sexual partners. My research intends to explore the complex sexual and injection networks among KPs in Pakistan to elucidate pathways leading to heterogeneity in HIV transmission epidemics. Combined with epidemiological analyses, mathematical models will be utilized to gain insight into the current and future status of the HIV epidemics, the subpopulations that drive new HIV infections, and how HIV sub-epidemics evolve over time in Pakistan. Findings from my research will be very important for gaining a more precise understanding of context-specific complexities that dictate the HIV transmission dynamics as well as for comparing potential heterogeneity between geographic regions.
 
Paul McLaren
Home Country: Canada
Degree: PhD - University of Manitoba
BSc--University of Manitoba
Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Keith Fowke


Resistance to HIV-1; The Role of Immune Gene Expression
Description of the Project: Heterogeneity exists in the population with respect to susceptibility to infection by HIV. Evidence exists that genetic and immune factors contribute to the development of HIV resistance in the Nairobi commercial sex-workers cohort. Using microarray technology my project involves genomic analysis of immune function of CD4+ T cells of HIV resistant women and how this differs from susceptible individuals both at baseline and when stimulated with HIV and non-HIV antigens. Determining if patterns of gene expression exist that characterize HIV resistant individuals as well as discovering factors that may mediate this resistance is the principle goal of this project and may lead to the discovery of an HIV vaccine.
 
Lyle McKinnon
Home Country: Canada
Degree: PhD - University of Manitoba
BSc--University of Winnipeg
Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Frank Plummer


HIV Env-specific CD8 T cell responses in Kenyan sex workers
Description of the Project: Although HIV-specific CD8 T cells are capable of containing HIV and are the basis of several candidate HIV vaccines, it remains to be clear why they often fail as HIV-infected individuals progress to AIDS. A large, prospective sex worker cohort in Nairobi, Kenya contains several women who remain uninfected despite intense exposure and others who are HIV-positive but do not progress to AIDS. By comparing the HIV-specific CD8 T cell specificity and phenotypes between these examples of immunological success and AIDS-progressing individuals, protective responses may be identified. Knowledge of what makes an HIV-specific CD8 T cell response effective would aid evaluation of current vaccines and design of later generation vaccines.
 
Yitagele Terefe Mekonnen
Home Country: Harar, Ethiopia
Degree: University of Nairobi, year I PhD student in Tropical and Infectious Disease

Master of Science in Veterinary Public Health (MVPH), Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia (2017)

Master of Science in Tropical Animal Health (MSTAH), Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium (2012)

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) in Addis Ababa, University, Ethiopia (2007)
Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Julius Oyugi, University of Nairobi, Kenya

Molecular Epidemiology and Antimicrobial Resistance of Campylobacter Species and their role in childhood malnutrition in Eastern Ethiopia
Description of the Project: Campylobacter species are the major bacterial pathogens causing foodborne diarrheal illness in humans and represent the main cause of diarrheal disease mortality in children in developing countries. Currently it is considered as a predominant cause of Environmental Enteric Dysfunction (EED) in children. These lines of evidence converge to suggest that Campylobacter species are the main pathogenic bacteria causing stunting. Moreover, Campylobacter isolates have raised great concerns due to a frequent emergence of antibiotics resistance. Limited studies have been reported on Campylobacter infection in both animals and humans in developing countries including Ethiopia. Similarly, the genotypic information from developing countries is lacking. Hence this PhD study aimed to identify the role of Campylobacter species in childhood malnutrition and determine the molecular epidemiology and antimicrobial resistance profiles Campylobacter in Ethiopia.
 
Marylin Mora-Morales
Home Country: San Andres island, Colombia
Degree: Antioquia University, Doctoral student in Epidemiology
Master’s degree in biomedical Basic Sciences, Antioquia University, Medellín, Colombia, 2018
Bachelor’s degree as Microbiologist, San Buenaventura University. Colombia, 2004
Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. Zulma V. Rueda

Epidemiological characterization, risk factors and clinical impact of mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in native patients in San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina islands: diagnostic and therapeutic implications.

Description of the Project: It is the objective of the present research proposal to concentrate efforts by studying the dynamics of tuberculosis infection in the root population that inhabits the archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina. This will be achieved, assessing as a whole unreported transmission mechanisms and risk factors not described in this population, in combination diagnostic tool for latent infection and risk of reactivation in susceptible individuals.
 
Florence Mutua
Home Country: Kenya
Degree: University of Manitoba, Doctoral student
MSc in Medical Microbiology, University of Nairobi
Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB), University of Nairobi
Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. Blake Ball

The effect of concurrent HIV infection on interferon signaling and transcript signatures in tuberculosis

Description of the Project: Tuberculosis is currently ranked alongside HIV as a leading cause of death by a single infectious agent. TB presents as a spectrum with latent TB at one end and active TB at the other; HIV being a potent factor in reactivation of LTBI to active TB. Interferons have multiple roles in infectious diseases including antiviral and immunomodulation roles. In Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection type II interferons play a protective role while that of type I IFNs remains incompletely understood. This study therefore aims to assess interferon signaling in TB, the effect concurrent HIV infection has on this signaling and associate these with cytokine responses to define a potential prediction factor for disease progression.
 
Lucy Wangari Mwangi
Home Country: Nairobi, Kenya
Degree: University of Nairobi; PhD. Student
MSc. Tropical and Infectious Diseases, University of Nairobi Kenya
BSc. Medical Laboratory Science, Kenyatta University Kenya
Supervisor:



Project Title:

Dr. Keith Fowke and Dr. Julius Oyugi, PhD


Limiting HIV Target Cells in the Female Genital Tract by Inducing Immune Quiescence

Description of the Project: HIV/AIDS is still a big global challenge, disproportionately affecting Sub-Saharan Africa and especially women. Increased immune activation is a risk factor for HIV-1 infection; with abundant production of pro-inflammatory cytokines promoting viral replication in infected cells. We have also learnt that a higher risk of sero-conversion is associated with increased immune activation prior to HIV exposure. However, Highly Exposed Seronegative (HESN) individuals are seen to have a unique immune quiescence (IQ) phenotype and despite HIV exposure remain uninfected; they show a lower base level immune activation than other people and few HIV target cells in the female genital tract. This study aims to answer the question of whether anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin and hydroxychloroquine, can decrease T cell immune activation among a HIV negative population thereby induce this IQ phenotype; with the goal to develop a new avenue to prevent HIV infection.
 
Ruth Sada Mwatelah
Home Country: Nairobi, Kenya
Degree: PhD University of Manitoba

Msc Epidemiology, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya

Bsc Medical Microbiology, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya
Supervisor:


Project Title:

Dr. Lyle McKinnon and Dr. Keith Fowke

Impact of sex work and behavioral factors on the immunological milieu of young female sex workers in Mombasa.

Description of the Project: Commensal microbes and inflammatory cytokine/chemokines form a major part of the vaginal immune milieu, and both have been associated with HIV acquisition risk. However, the upstream drivers of vaginal dysbiosis and inflammation remain only partially defined. A large proportion of new HIV infections in Sub-Saharan Africa occur in females under 25 years of age, particular those practicing sex work, but limited data are available on HIV risk factors at the time of entry into sex work. In my study I seek to characterize the vaginal microbiome and cytokine profiles of young women aged 14-24 years from Mombasa, Kenya.
 
Frank Ndaks Ndakala
Home Country: Vihiga County, Kenya
Degree: University of Nairobi Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases (UNITID), PhD, Infectious Diseases
Postgraduate Diploma in Translational Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
Master of Science in Applied Parasitology & Immunology, University of Nairobi, Kenya
Bachelor of Science in Applied Biology, University of Nairobi, Kenya
Supervisor:



Project Title:
Prof. Francis Mulaa (University of Nairobi), Prof. Ben Estambale (University of Nairobi) and Dr. Julius Oyugi (University of Nairobi and co-supervisor Prof. Georg M. N. Behrens (University Hospital Hanover))

Molecular Genetic Analysis of Antiretroviral Therapy Related Adverse Drug Events (ADEs) in Kenya
Description of the Project: During the administration of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), Adverse Drug Events (ADEs) can contribute to treatment failure or drug resistance thus delaying the rapid delivery of much needed treatment to patients. Since ADEs are greatly influenced by polymorphisms in genes responsible for drug metabolism e.g. cytochrome p450 (CYP450), there is need to generate and avail patient’s genetic information to physicians before treatment initiation. The object of this work will be to assess the influence of genetic polymorphisms of CYP450 on ARV related ADEs among HIV patients in Kenya. Further, my study will aim at coming up with less invasive and cost effective mechanisms for predicting antiretroviral drug related toxicities.
 
Dr Lilian N Njagi
Home Country: Kenya
Degree: U of Nairobi, doctoral student

Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (DTM&H), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) with Makerere University and Kilimanjaro Christian Medical School

Master of Science in Tropical and Infectious Diseases (MSc TID), University of Nairobi

Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB), University of Nairobi
Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Julius Oyugi, PhD


Isoniazid for latent TB infection in people living with HIV: Novel strategies for treatment monitoring.
Description of the Project: Tuberculosis (TB) is still a major public health challenge of global interest. Latent TB infection (LTBI) is the greatest contributor to active TB. Achieving control of TB must therefore entail innovation in LTBI management. We aim to validate novel methods of LTBI treatment monitoring amongst PLHIV, specifically therapeutic drug monitoring of isoniazid (INH) using hair samples, and response monitoring using change in interferon gamma secretion in response to peptides encoded by genes upregulated during the LTBI phase.
 
Emily Nyariki
Home Country: Kenya
Degree: PhD (University of Nairobi)
Master of Arts Degree (Population Studies) - University of Nairobi
Bachelor of Arts (Sociology and Religion) University of Nairobi
Supervisor:



Project Title:
Prof Joyce Olenja, Dr. Robert Read Lorway, DDr. Sabina Wakasiaka and Prof Omu Anzala

Volunteers’ perceptions and experiences of clinical research participation in Kenya: Case study of KAVI volunteers
Description of the Project: The conduct of clinical research faces unique challenges that compromise optimal recruitment of volunteers into studies. In KAVI, Kenya, where a number of clinical research studies are being conducted, data from recruitment sites reveal that some eligible volunteers fail to turn up for enrollment. A mixed method design will be used to explore volunteers’ perceptions and experiences and their potential impact on decision making to participate in clinical research.
 
Missiani Ochwoto
Home Country: Kenya
Degree:

The University of Nairobi, PhD
Bsc. Biomedical Science and Technology - Maseno University
MSc in Medical Virology- Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Elijah M. Songok , Dr. Carla Osiowy , Prof. James Ochanda

Molecular Characterization of Acute and Chronic Hepatitis B Virus among Patients Attending Selected Hospitals in Kenya.
Description of the Project: Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) is the major cause of Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) and liver related mortality worldwide. In this study, acute and chronic HBV patients will be followed up in three different sites in Kenya with the aim of exploring the viral factors (genotypes and virus mutations), host factors (Mutation at P53 tumor gene) and environmental factors (exposure to afflatoxins) that contribute to high HCC. The study will also compare the molecular characteristics of the viruses responsible for acute and chronic hepatitis and use the consensus nucleotide sequences obtained to develop a kit that will detect and/or predict Hepatitis B Viruses likely to develop chronic infection. The main focus will be to document the factor(s) that can be targeted for interventional measures among the infected HBV population.
Ifeoma Benedette Okwor
Home Country: Enugu State, Nigeria
Degree:

University of Manitoba, PhD, Medical Microbiology, Medicine

Master of Science, Immunology, University of Manitoba

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, ABU, Zaria, Nigeria

Supervisor:
Dr. Jude Eze Uzonna
Project Title:
Regulation of Secondary Anti-Leishmania Immunity
Description of the Project: Leishmaniasis is a global public health problem and has been identified by World Health Organization as one of the tropical diseases for intensive research. Previous data from our lab shows that LIGHT; a member of the TNF super family of cytokines play a critical role in protection against primary Leishmania infection. My project will investigate the role of LIGHT and other TNF superfamily members in secondary immunity against Leishmania parasites.
Titus Olukitibi
Home Country: Nigeria
Degree:

University of Manitoba, PhD, Medical Microbiology, Medicine

Master’s Degree in Medical microbiology; Federal University of Technology Akure; 2017

Bachelor’s Degree in Microbiology; Federal University of Technology; Akure; 2012

Supervisor:
Dr. Xiao-Jian Yao
Project Title:
Development and Characterization of a Novel DC-Targeting Universal Vaccine Approach against Influenza Infection
Description of the Project: Influenza virus disease has received global attention because of its high morbidity and mortality rate and difficulty in management due to mutation and reassortment caused by antigenic drifts and shifts, respectively. The consequent constant changing in the forms of influenza virus has led to the yearly production of vaccine based on predictions; however, the predicted vaccines can be mismatched and may not be able to protect against emerging pandemic strains of influenza virus. Because of this, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recently declared an urgency in developing a universal vaccine that can give broad protection against all existing forms and futuristic forms of the influenza virus. In our response to this call, we have developed a dendritic cell (DC)-targeting vaccine approach using Ebola virus glycoprotein with deleted Mucin-like Domain to direct the conserved epitopes of influenza virus surface antigens which include the haemagglutinin (HA), matrix protein (M2) to DCs. Our results so far have shown that the immunization of mice with virus-like-particles (VLPs) incorporated plasmids stimulate both adaptive and humoral immune responses against influenza virus; therefore, we will further investigate the protection induced by this approach in mice using different strains of influenza virus.
 
Robert Were Omange
Home Country: Kenya
Degree:

PhD, University of Manitoba
Masters of Science in Molecular Medicine, Institute of Tropical Medicine and infectious diseases

Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Chemistry, University of
Nairobi

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Frank Plummer


Linkage of innate and adaptive immunity in HIV-1 resistant women in Nairobi
Description of the Project: The innate mechanisms responsible for the development of HIV specific adaptive response in HEPS individual and chronic HIV infection are still unknown. Exposure to the HIV antigens and recognition by the innate immune system together appears to lead to the development of these responses. Understanding the linkage between the innate and adaptive immune response in HIV-1 disease is integral to elucidate the mechanism for development of HIV-1 specific responses.
 
Kenneth Omollo
Home Country: Kenya
Degree:

University of Nairobi, PhD
Msc. Medical Microbiology, University of Nairobi

Bsc. Biomedical Technology, University of Nairobi

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Julius Oyugi, Dr. Keith Fowke


The impact of hormonal contraception on the susceptibility to HIV infection among women from Nairobi, Kenya
Description of the Project: Endogenous sex hormones, estradiol and progesterone, are known to regulate the mucosal immune system in the female genital tract throughout the menstrual cycle. These hormones play a role in mucosal defense and susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections such as HIV. There is scientific debate that use of the progesterone-based contraceptive Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DMPA) may increase the risk of HIV acquisition in women. However, the biological mechanisms that underlie these observations are yet to be fully elucidated. My study is exploring the impact of exogenous sex hormones on the activation of T cells and innate cytokines in the blood and female genital tract as a possible mechanism by which contraceptives may increase one’s risk of HIV infection.
 
Ana Ossa
Home Country: Colombia
Degree:

University of Antioquia, PhD student - Biomedical Basic Sciences (Immunology)

Specializing in Clinical Microbiology, Institución Universitaria Colegio Mayor de Antioquia, Colombia

Microbiologist, University of Antioquia, Colombia

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Wildeman Zapata Builes


Immunogenetic factors limiting HIV-1 transmission in men who have sex with men from Medellín, Colombia
Description of the Project: The prevalence of HIV infection in Colombia is about 0.53%; even though HIV-1 could affect to everybody, there are populations with high risk of infection, such as men who have sex with men (MSM), who are more severely affected by HIV than any other group; this situation shows the need to develop new approaches to fight against HIV in this population. However, there are MSM and other people who remain uninfected despite their exposure to the virus, called HIV-1-exposed seronegative individuals (HESN) who make evident the existence of natural resistance mechanisms against HIV infection. Therefore, with this project we want to determine the immunogenetic factors limiting HIV-1 transmission in MSM from Medellín-Colombia to contribute with the understanding of the HIV-1 pathogenesis and it might lead to the development of new therapeutic strategies for this elusive disease.
 
Julius Otieno Oyugi
Home Country: Kenya
Degree:

Diploma, Virology-- Kenya Medical Training College, Kenya
MSc Virology-- Liverpool Johnmoores University, UK

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Keith Fowke


CD4 POLYMORPHISM AND ITS ASSOCIATION WITH HIV INFECTION AND DISEASE
Description of the Project: The risk of infection to HIV, resistant to infection with HIV and delayed time of progression to AIDS have been linked to different gene polymorphisms. My main interest in this project is to investigate how the polymorphic CD4 cells alter the function of CD4 molecule in relationship to HIV infection and disease. To do this I will conduct in vitro studies to look at binding affinities of the polymorphic and the wild type CD4 cells to the gp120 of HIV virus. Currently I am at the initial stages of my project and I am involved in preparing cell lines for affinity binding assays. Apart from the affinity assays, I am also interested in looking at how the polymorphic CD4 cells alter signal transduction pathway and other functions of CD4 molecule in relationship to HIV infection and disease.
 
Dr. Manoj Kumar Pati
Home Country: India
Degree:

University of Antwerp, Belgium Doctoral Student, 1st Year (Admission in Process)

Resident Fellowship in International Health Programme, Department of Health Policy, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium

Masters of Public Health in Health Systems Management, SRM University, Chennai, India; Bachelor of Homeopathy Medicine and Surgery, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, India; Bachelor of Science, Zoology Major, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi, India

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Krishnamurthy Jayanna, Dr. Prashanth N, Dr. Edwin Wouters


How to redesign primary healthcare for improving continuum of care for select noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in urban India? A realist evaluation approach
Description of the Project: I am trying to understand how and under what conditions a set of interventions aimed for improving continuum of care at an urban primary health centre would bring improvement (or not) in prevention, management and quality of care for select NCDs (diabetes and hypertension) in Mysuru city, India. Keeping the WHO Innovative Care for Chronic Conditions (WHO ICCC) framework as an initial theoretical framework, organisation of NCD care in urban primary health centres (UPHCs) will be studied in Mysuru city. Given the context, a realist evaluation will be undertaken to understand the mechanisms in which designed interventions would work or not. I will also take this opportunity to examine conditions necessary for UPHCs to implement WHO Package of Essential Interventions for NCDs at primary care in LMICs (WHO PEN) with regards to diabetes and hypertension.
 
Andrew Plesniarski
Home Country: Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Degree:

University of Manitoba, PhD

BSc Honours in Biochemistry from the University of Winnipeg in 2015

Transitioned from Masters in Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases to PhD at the University of Manitoba in 2017

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Ruey-Chyi Su and Dr. T. Blake Ball


The effect of oxytocin on the inflammatory profile of epithelial cells from the female genital tract and HIV susceptibility.
Description of the Project: Oxytocin is a neuropeptide hormone produced during both labour and sex that has been shown to reduce inflammation in epithelia from both the gut and the skin. Inflammation has been implicated as a key driver of susceptibility to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, particularly during sexual transmission. This study seeks to characterize the effect that oxytocin has on epithelia from the female genital tract (FGT), as well as its impact on susceptibility to infection with HIV in both ex vivo peripheral blood mononucleocyte (PBMC) and in vivo humanized mouse models. To test this hypothesis epithelial cells from the FGT will be challenged with Poly(I:C)/LyoVec in the presence or absence of oxytocin, and R5- and X4-tropic HIV strains will be used to infect PBMCs and humanized mice through spinoculation and intravaginal challenge, respectively, in the presence or absence of oxytocin. The expected results from this study are that oxytocin will reduce inflammation in epithelial cells from the FGT, and reduce susceptibility to infection with HIV in both the ex vivo and in vivo infection models.
 
Jenniffer Puerta Suárez
Home Country: Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Degree:

Universidad de Antioquia, doctoral student 2nd year

Microbiologist, Universidad de Antioquia, 2013

Master in biology, Universidad de Antioquia, 2016

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Walter Darío Cardona Maya


Prevalence of prostatitis symptoms in Antioquia, Colombia: description of factors associated with an enigmatic disease
Description of the Project: Prostatitis affects one third of men in reproductive age, their main cause being bacterial infections. For its treatment, broad-spectrum antibiotics are used, this therapy generally fails and promotes the spread of multiresistant microorganisms. In addition, it has been postulated that chronic infections of the prostate may favor the onset of benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer. Our objective is to determine the prevalence and describe the factors associated with the onset of prostatitis symptoms in men of the Antioquia, Colombia.
 
Juan Carlos Quintero Vélez
Home Country: Medellín – Colombia
Degree:

University of Antioquia, Doctoral student in Epidemiology
Doctor Veterinary, University of Antioquia Husbandry, National University of Colombia
MSc in Animal Science, University of Antioquia

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr Carlos Rojas Arbeláez


Study of the social determinants that influence infection by Rickettsia in the Uraba region, Colombia
Description of the Project: Characterize the social and cultural determinants that influence the infection by Rickettsia in people living in endemic areas of the Urabá region, with the purpose of designing public health interventions which are sustainable and consistent with the reality of those affected. We expect to describe social, cultural, genetic, economic, environmental and ecological factors, which are related to rickettsial infection in the Urabá region (Antioquia, Colombia); We expect to identify the social inequalities of the health care system associated with delayed diagnosis and treatment of rickettsial infection.
 
Md Niaz Rahim
Home Country: Bangladesh
Degree:

University of Manitoba, PhD, Medical Microbiology
MSc. in Microbiology, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
BSc. (Honors) in Microbiology, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Kevin M Coombs


Identification of host cellular factors and mechanisms that interact with Influenza A NS1 protein for replication
Description of the Project: The Influenza A viruses (IAVs) are obligate intracellular parasites and their replication process depends exclusively on host cells. IAV non-structural protein NS1 is a multifunctional protein and essential for viral replication in host cells. Certain group of NS1 interacting host factors may play important role during IAV replication. The goal of my project is to identify host factors that interact with native IAV NS1 using these mAbs and mechanistically determine how some of them affect different IAV growth. We have developed broadly cross reactive anti- NS1 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that can detect different epitopes of various types of IAV NS1.I have detected several NS1 interacting host factors and I expect to find few host factors, which will inhitbit IAV replication without interfering host’s normal function.
 
Michael Babu Raj
Home Country: India
Degree:

Kuvempu University, Karnataka, Doctoral student

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Chandrashekar.E


PPTCT Services: Are We Reaching Out? - From Human Rights Perspective
Description of the Project: The study identifies areas of concerns and best practices for an effective and sustainable PPTCT program. It documents the primary barriers that hinder access to services and identifies areas where the children and the family play a role in the solution and not just as part of the problem. The study helps in strengthening linkage between care and prevention and further address concerns related to health service system and delivery. The study also explores the infringement of rights of parents and children, that prevent pediatric access to ART (both policy and programming issues) and how these maybe addressed.
 
Carlos Alberto Reina Bolaños
Home Country: Cali, Colombia
Degree:

University of Antioquia, Doctoral Student in Epidemiology
Master’s degree in Public Health, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia, 2018
Bachelor’s degree. Occupational Therapist, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia, 2013

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. María Patricia Arbeláez Montoya


Evaluation of effectiveness of an intervention for the control of one of the ETV transmitted by Aedes in Santiago de Cali, Colombia.
Description of the Project: Vector-borne diseases are causing increasing levels of morbidity and mortality around the world; mainly in countries with tropical climate. In the case of Colombia, the EGI strategy becomes very important because the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are responsible for the transition of Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya viruses. This project is an evaluative investigation of the effectiveness of the EGI-ETV on the incidence of dengue in the resident population of the different communities of Santiago de Cali, using a quantitative methodology with a quasi-experimental design of interrupted time series, based on secondary data collected in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
 
Meika Richmond
Home Country: Canada
Degree:

University of Manitoba, PhD

Previous degree: Bachelor of Science Honours, Biotechnology from the University of Manitoba

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Frank Plummer and Dr. T. Blake Ball


Polyfunctionality and proliferation of CD8+ T cells in chronic and acute HIV infection
Description of the Project: Previous work by others and myself have demonstrated that HIV infected subjects who experience slower disease progression maintain better HIV-specific CD8+ T cell proliferation and polyfunctionality compared with normal progressing controls. My research aims at better understanding the polyfunctional and proliferative capacity of HIV-specific CD8+ T cells. I am following newly infected subjects; shortly after seroconversion through to chronic infection and monitoring the changes in the quality of their CD8+ T cell responses over the course of their infection. I am also characterizing novel epitopes found during a previous p24 epitope mapping study that educe polyfunctional and proliferative responses.
 
Carolina Rodríguez Echeverri
Home Country: Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Degree:

Universidad de Antioquia, Doctoral student of Microbiology

Microbiólogist, Universidad de Antioquia (2016)

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Ángel González Marín, MSc, PhD


Hematopoietic and Mesenchymal Stem Cells as targets for Histoplasma capsulatum infection: effects on hematopoiesis, differentiation and proliferation
Description of the Project: Histoplasmosis is a systemic mycosis of great importance in the world, which mainly affects immunocompromised individuals. In patients with disseminated forms of the disease the bone marrow is affected and is associated with leucopenia, anemia and thrombocytopenia; thus, worsening the clinical outcome. This study aims to determine whether the infection of bone marrow-derived hematopoietic and mesenchymal stem cells from by Histoplasma capsulatum affects hematopoiesis, differentiation and proliferation of these cells.
 
Zulma Rueda
Home Country: Colombia
Degree:

University of Antioquia,PhD -Epidemiology

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Lázaro Vélez, MD. Professor of Medicine
University of Antioquia


Epidemiologic and clinical characteristics of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in prisoners at four different jails. Colombia 2010-2012
Description of the Project: Prisons are considered major reservoirs of tuberculosis (TB) and from that point of view, a major threat to public health. In order to get to know the magnitude of the problems in prisons at regions where they will carry out the study and it’s potential impact on public health, we want to investigate: What is the prevalence of sensitive and resistant TB in the prison population? What are the risk factors for TB and those associated with primary and secondary resistance? What are the clinical presentations and outcomes of TB according to the genotypes and resistance patterns identified?
 
Erika Andrea Rodriguez
Home Country: Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia
Degree:

University of Antioquia, doctoral student in Biology 3rd year

Microbiologist, Universidad de Antioquia, 2009

Master in Biology, Universidad de Antioquia, 2014

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Judy Natalia Jiménez Quiceno, MSc, PhD


Study of bacterial communities and antibiotic resistance genes in a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Medellin, Colombia
Description of the Project: The wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) are considered one reservoir of antimicrobial resistance. Colombia is regarded as an endemic region for some mechanisms of resistance, and this problem has been evidence in Colombian's hospitals. However, there is a limitation in current knowledge about bacteria resistance in the environment and the community. This study aims to determine the behavior of bacterial resistance to antibiotics of clinical importance in a WWTP in Medellin, Colombia.
 
Robert Rutayisire
Home Country: Born in Rwanda
Degree:

University of NAIROBI, Doctoral student

BSc in Biomedical Laboratory Sciences

MMLS in Clinical chemistry

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Julius Oyugi


Altered cardiovascular risk factors: the association with HIV infection and ART drugs
Description of the Project: In sub-Saharan Africa, the epidemiological transition toward emerging NCDs linked with lifestyle risk factors raises major concerns to developing countries that need to find the right balance in resource allocation to health programs. This study will explore the impact of antiretroviral therapy on biomarkers of cardiovascular diseases and identify factors associated with these increasing risk profiles, particularly concerning the type and duration of (ART).
 
Satyanarayana
Home Country: India
Degree:

PhD, Center for Multi-disciplinary Development Research (CMDR), Dharwad, supported by Indian Institute of Social Science Research (ICSSR), India

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. V.B Annigari, Professor, CMDR-Dharwad


Migration, Mobility and HIV/AIDS: a comparative study of urban and rural female sex workers in Northern Karnataka, India
Description of the Project: This project is being conducted on migrant and mobile female sex workers (FSWs) in Bagalkot, Bijapur and Belgaum districts in Northern Karnataka, India to better understand FSWs migration/mobility pattern and to describe the individual, structural, societal and contextual factors that contributes to the risk and vulnerability of urban & rural FSWs. The study will utilize mixed methods approach to meet the research objective and use both secondary and primary data for analysis.
 
Dave Safronetz
Home Country: Canada
Degree:

BSc--University of Saskatchewan
MSc--University of Manitoba

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Michael Drebot


Ecology and biology of Hantaviruses
Description of the Project: Hantaviruses are an important group of rodent-borne pathogens, which are associated with two clinical illnesses in humans: Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). My research is primarily focused on the characterization of functional and antigenic domains within the glycoproteins of disease-causing hantaviruses and evaluating factors effecting the transmissibility of hantaviruses within a population of naturally-infected deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) in Manitoba, Canada. The aim of this research is to identify how and when risk of human exposure to these viruses changes and to provide insight into potential therapeutic strategies and vaccines
 
Juan Aicardo Segura Caro
Home Country: Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Degree:

Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Doctoral student, 4th year

MSc.Biotechnology, Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Animal Scientist, Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dra. Lina Andrea Gutiérrez Builes


Diversity of the family Ixodidae ticks in two livestock subregions of Antioquia: Natural infection, Integrative Taxonomy and analysis of intestinal microbiota and salivary glands
Description of the Project: Tick-borne diseases are a public health problem in the world. The aims of the project: Identify tick species of the family Ixodidae in two livestock areas of Antioquia, Colombia, South America. Detect the presence of zoonotic microorganisms of the genera Anaplasma, Babesia, Borrelia, Coxiella, Ehrlichia and Rickettsia. And the description of the bacterial communities in salivary glands and intestine with the analysis of deep diversity. This information will allow us to understand their vectorial capacity, the associated microorganisms, their interactions and the presence of pathogens of zoonotic importance. Information that is key in the implementation of prevention, surveillance and control programs to benefit to human and animal health.
 
Elnaz Shadabi
Home Country: Kermanshah, Iran
Degree:

University of Manitoba, Ph.D. Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease
B.Sc. University of Winnipeg

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Ma Luo and Dr. Plummer


Identification and Characterization of Immunologically Relevant T cell Epitopes of HIV-1 Nef
Description of the Project: Studies have shown that Human Leukocyte Antigen restricted Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte responses play a major role for immune control of HIV infection. To cope with this, the virus undergoes mutations called positive selection (PS), which diminish or escape CTL recognition. Identifying and characterizing these mutations can help select immunogens for candidate vaccines. Nef, an accessory protein of HIV-1 interacts with signal transduction proteins of infected host cell and down regulates CD4 and HLA Class I genes expression on cell surface. Therefore, identification of immunologically relevant T cell epitopes in HIV-1 Nef and correlating them with specific host HLA alleles will help determine the immunogens that can be included in a candidate HIV vaccine.
 
Souradet Shaw
Home Country: Vientianne, Laos
Degree:

BA (Major: Psychology) from the University of Manitoba

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. James F. Blanchard


Understanding autoimmune diseases: combining traditional epidemiological techniques and complex systems approaches
Description of the Project: The causes of two related diseases, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and multiple sclerosis (MS) are unknown. It has been proposed that a combination of environmental exposures and genetics cause IBD and MS, but the correct combination is still a mystery. Solving this mystery is a great challenge to researchers; part of the challenge lies in the limitations of researchers’ tools. Using administrative data and other existing data sources, this project will combine traditional epidemiologic methods and complex systems dynamic modeling to compare the epidemiology of these idiopathic diseases in different populations. Conceptualizing IBD and MS emergence as a property of dynamic systems expands the analytical capacity of epidemiologists to uncover disease etiology, potentially informing prevention and treatment.
 
Bharatesh Karunakar Shetty
Home Country: Manipal, Udupi District, Karnataka, India
Degree:

M.Sc (Health Sciences) with Public Health Specialization, from School of Health Sciences, Pune University, Pune, Maharashtra (1996)
B.Sc (Chemistry Botany and Zoology), Karnataka University Dharwad, Karnataka (1994)

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr.Reynold Washington


Understanding Mental Health Issues among Youth Living with HIV (19 to 25 years) in Belgaum district, Karnataka and Developing Appropriate Counseling Training Curriculum for Counselors in ART Center
Description of the Project: Mental health is one of the major public health concerns in the global context .It is a critical and neglected global health challenge for adolescents and youths. HIV infected youths who are in the age group between (19-25 years) are more vulnerable to mental health problems. This is less explored and understood in the current context of PLHIV care and support programs in India. Perintally transmitted children who were put on ART during their childhood are now surviving and they are in youth stage (19 to 25 years). Access to ART has helped in prolonging life of children, however their mental health issues not been addressed. Counselors at the facility level are less equipped with skills and knowledge on how to address these issues of YLHIV. The study mainly explores the mental health issues among YLHIV and help them to overcome these challenges. The study also aims to develop appropriate counseling training curriculum for the counselors on how to address mental health issues among YLHIV.
 
Abu Bakar Siddik
Home Country: Bangladesh
Degree:

University of Manitoba, PhD student

B.Sc and Master’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. I have also completed my second Master’s degree from the University of Skovde, Sweden.

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Ruey Su and Dr. Blake Ball


Impact of Fatty acids in regulating inflammation at the vaginal mucosa by sensitizing cervico-vaginal epithelial cells
Description of the Project: Epithelial cell layers at the vaginal mucosa need to show tolerance response against commensal microbiome to maintain the symbiosis relation. Different factors presence at the vaginal mucosa such as, metabolites, microbiome, hormones, mucus, cytokines/chemokines etc. always influence host epithelial cells. Among all of these factors, the role of SCFAs and long chain fatty acid in shaping the microenvironment of vaginal mucosa has less studied. So the overall goal of my project is to identify how fatty acids at the vaginal mucosa are involved in the cross-talk between microbes and host cells to maintain the symbiosis relation.
 
Aida Sivro
Home Country: Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Degree:

University of Manitoba, PhD

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Frank Plummer and and Dr. T.B. Ball


The Role of IRF-1 Polymorphisms in susceptibility to HIV-1 Infection
Description of the Project: This project involves studying naturally occurring variants of IRF-1 gene, transcriptional regulator and an important player in developing proper host immune responses against HIV-1 infection. Individuals with the ‘protective’ IRF-1 variant have significantly lower chance of getting infected with HIV virus. We are interested in further determining what effects do different IRF-1 gene variants have on HIV-1 replication and the development of host immune responses.
 
Joyce Slater
Home Country: Canada
Degree:

MSc--Community Nutrition
University of Manitoba

Supervisor:


Dr. John O'Neil


Description of the Project: My research project focuses on the Canadian food system and its impact on health and illness, in particular childhood obesity. Substantial changes to both the food system and food consumption patterns over the last 30 years have resulted in unanticipated outcomes such as new pathogens in the food supply, obesity and chronic diseases. Understanding the social and structural influences on the food system and dietary patterns has implications for how we understand and address both infectious and chronic illness.
Heather Smith
Home Country: Canada
Degree: BSc Microbiology--University of Manitoba
Supervisor:
Project Title:
Dr. D.J. Hoban
Molecular Characterization of Fluoroquinolone Resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae
Description of the Project: pneumoniae: chromosomal mutations and efflux. I conduct my research on two groups of isolates: clinical isolates our lab receives as part of a Canada-wide antibiotic resistance in respiratory organisms’ surveillance study and laboratory mutants that I have generated. We are investigating how different fluoroquinolones are affected by the various phenotypes/genotypes of S. pneumoniae that are observed in clinical isolates..
Melissa Smith
Home Country: Canada
Degree:

U of Manitoba, PhD, Medical Microbiology

Bachelor of Science from the University of Regina

Supervisor:

Project Title:
Dr. Blake Ball and Dr. Frank Plummer

Heterogeneity in Progression to AIDS: The Role of Antigen Specific CD8+T cell
Description of the Project: After initial infection with HIV, some individuals progress to AIDS more quickly than average (Rapid Progressors), and others more slowly (Long-term non-progressors). This study is being carried out on a group of female sex workers in Nairobi, Kenya, to assess the role that CD8+ cytotoxic T cells may have in delaying progression to AIDS. CD8+ T cells will be evaluated based on their ability to suppress virus in vitro, secrete cytokines, proliferate, and by which T-cell receptors are preferentially utilized. This study will help to shed light on what some of the natural protective responses are against HIV, and thereby help to inform vaccine or treatment design.
Derek Stein
Home Country: Canada
Degree: University of Manitoba, P.hD.

Supervisor:


Project Title:

Dr. Frank Plummer and Dr. Blake Ball


Mass Spectrometry based characterization of HIV-1 resistance in the female genital tract

Description of the Project: The world is in desperate need of an effective HIV-1 vaccine and models of protective immunity. In Nairobi, Kenya a group of commercial sex workers have been characterized, who, despite repeated exposure to HIV-1, remain uninfected. Globally, most HIV exposures occur in the female genital tract (FGT) during heterosexual contact, leading our group to hypothesize that immune defenses acting at the genital mucosa may be contributing to their ability to resist HIV infection. This thesis hypothesizes that lymphocytes in the FGT of HIV resistant women have distinct functional and phenotypic properties when compared with women who have a relatively low-risk of becoming infected and that this may be playing a significant role in mediating resistance to HIV infection. Using a mass spectrometry based approach we are able to compare the proteome expression differences between these groups to discover biologically relevant markers of HIV resistance in the FGT. A better understanding of how HIV is naturally repelled will have important implications for the design of vaccines and microbicides needed to slow the HIV pandemic.
Michael Stobart
Home Country: Canada
Degree: B.Sc. Honors Co-op First Class Honors (U of Manitoba)
U of Manitoba, doctoral student 5 year.

Supervisor:

Project Title:

Dr. J. David Knox

Identification of Non-Essential Host Genes Required for PrP106-126 Mediated Neurotoxicity

Description of the Project: Prion diseases are invariably fatal neurodegenerative disorders that result from aggregation of an infectious isoform of an endogenous protein. The mechanism of neurotoxicity remains elusive, in large part due to the lack of a satisfactory cell culture model that mimics disease pathogenesis. I have developed a model that results in apoptosis of human neuroblastoma cells when exposed to a peptide derived from full-length prion protein, with cell death averaging 99% compared to a control peptide. Using this model, I have screened a shRNA library consisting of 73,000 molecules, and so far, have identified 46 genes that appear to be essential for prion-mediated neurotoxicity. Quantification of the expression levels of these genes in brains from infected and control mice indicates that a large portion represent potential disease biomarkers, with confirmation of their potential currently underway in kidneys.
 
Tammy Stuart
Home Country: Canada
Degree: BSc --University of Manitoba
Supervisor:


Project Title:

Dr. Frank Plummer/Dr.Kevin Koombs
Professor, Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba

HIV-1 superinfection and HLA driven Evolution
Description of the Project: Superinfection can be defined as the HIV infection (with the same or different subtype) of an individual who already has an established HIV infection. The question is raised as to whether infection with HIV has a protective effect against a subsequent infection with another HIV-1 virus. The ML cohort is an ideal one to study this question because of the high HIV incidence and prevalence, the number of unprotected exposures and the diversity of circulating viral subtypes. My project also involves studying the effects of HLA class I on viral evolution over time within the protease gene.
 
Natalia Taborda
Home Country: Colombia
Degree: University of Antioquia, PhD- basic sciences
Supervisor:

Project Title:
Dr. María Teresa Rugeles

Evaluation of genetic and immunological mechanisms involve in resistance to HIV-1 exhibited by chronically infected individuals who control viral replication without antirretrovirals
Description of the Project: There are two new phenotypes of HIV-1 positive individuals who exhibit a spontaneous and sustained control of viral replication at least for one year without antiretroviral therapy (HIV-1 controllers). Considering that these patients were recently described, and the mechanisms related to the control of viral replication are poorly studied we have focused our research attention on this population. We want to establish the association between spontaneously control of HIV-1 replication and the following factors in peripheral blood and gut-associated lymphoid tissue: i) Frequency of immune cells; ii) immune hiperactivation status; iii) soluble proteins with anti-HIV-1 activity; iv) cytotoxic activity of NK cells and CD8+ T cells; v) presence of HLA alleles and vi) expression of human killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR).
 
Mallika Tharakan
Home Country: Mysore, Karnataka, India
Degree:

Kuvempu University, Karnataka, India, PhD Student

Supervisor:

Project Title:
Dr. Shajy Isac

Changing engagement of women in agriculture and its association with consumption patterns and nutrient intake in rural Karnatakas
Description of the Project: For an estimated 72% of the 1.1 billion people who live in rural India, agriculture is a way of life. Agriculture in India defines familial tradition, social relations and gender roles. Female in the agricultural sector, whether through traditional means or industrial, for subsistence or as an agricultural labourer, represents a momentous demographic group. In rural India, the percentage of women who depend on agriculture for their livelihood is as high as 84%. With globalization and liberalization, the agricultural economy has experienced shifts and changes and so has the nature of involvement of women in agriculture. Modernization and mechanization has brought many paradoxical situations for the poor household women. Though there have been several studies to understand the changing patterns of the agrarian economy and women’s participation in agriculture, studies have not been really undertaken to explore the link between women’s participation and their nutrient intake. My research is aimed at understanding the current pattern of women’s engagement in agricultural sector in rural India; examining the changing patterns in the engagement of women over a period of time; and exploring how shifts in engagement patterns has influenced or resulted in changes in consumption models and nutrient uptake among these women.
 
Laura Hilary Thompson
Home Country: Canada
Degree:

U of Manitoba, Department of Community Health Sciences, PhD
Honours BSc (microbiology, human biology, and anthropology) - University of Toronto
MSc - Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitob

Supervisor:

Project Title:
Dr. James Blanchard

HIV epidemic diversity among high risk populations in Pakistan
Description of the Project: Pakistan has substantial heterogeneity in HIV prevalence and risk behaviors in different geographic areas and among different high risk populations. HIV prevalence has reached 50% among injection drug users in some areas and is recently beginning to appear among sex workers. Little is understood about the diversity and trajectory of HIV epidemics in Pakistan. My research will investigate and characterize HIV transmission chains in Pakistan using molecular, behavioural and social network data. This will provide a uniquely comprehensive understanding of the heterogeneity and population dynamics of HIV subepidemics in Pakistan, which will be critical to strategically design targeted HIV prevention programs.
 
Riley Tough
Home Country: Winnipeg, Canada
Degree:

Doctoral student, Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University of Manitoba

BSc Honours Genetics at the University of Manitoba

Supervisor:

Project Title:
Dr. Paul McLaren, Co-supervisor Dr. Blake Ball

Computational and Functional Characterization of a Novel Genomic Locus Associated With Decreased HIV Set-Point Viral Load
Description of the Project: HIV setpoint viral load (spVL), the amount of viral RNA found in the blood of individuals during latent phase of infection, is a strong predictor of disease progression rate and transmission risk. Many factors contribute to spVL levels, which can vary over several orders of magnitude between people, including host genetic background. In a recent genome-wide association study of HIV spVL, our group detected a novel association signal on chromosome 1 in 3,100 individuals of African ancestry. My project is to characterize the region of the genome to determine the functional characteristics and the impact of specific host genotypes on HIV disease progression.
 
Thérèse Umuhoza
Home Country: Rwanda
Degree:

PhD tropical and infectious diseases program

Bachelor’s Degree, Mass Communication, Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, India

Supervisor:

Project Title:
Prof. Bulimo Wallace and Dr. Oyugi Julius

A retrospective investigation of acute viral respiratory infections, epidemiology, clinical characteristics and associated factors in Kenya (2007-2012)
Description of the Project: Acute respiratory infections of viral origin are recognized the top leading cause of morbidity and mortality in young children, mostly in developing countries. Recent studies indicated that other age groups are affected as well. My project focus on understanding the epidemiology of infections caused by respiratory viruses named respiratory syncytial virus, human parainfluenza and adenoviruses in a Kenyan population.
 
Johanna M. Vanegas M
Home Country: Medellín, Colombia
Degree:

University of Antioquia, doctoral student 4 year, Epidemiology

Microbiologist, master in Microbiology. University of Antioquia

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Judy Natalia Jiménez Quiceno, MSc, PhD


Colonization and development of infections due to multidrug- resistant bacteria in a cohort of patients in hemodialysis
Description of the Project: Multidrug-resistant bacteria have emerged as important causes of healthcare-associated infections. Hemodialysis patients are a group particularly affected by these microorganisms, with colonization and infection rates often exceeding those seen in persons with other types of healthcare exposure. My thesis aims to analyze the effect of colonization by multidrug-resistant bacteria (S. aureus and betalactamase-producing Gram-negative bacteria) in the development of bacteremia in hemodialysis patients.
 
Gloria Vázquez Grande
Home Country: Spain
Degree:

University of Manitoba, PhD student 5years

MD, specialty - Critical Care; MSc in the department of Medicine at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Kumar


Effect of antibiotic sequence on bacterial clearance in a rat model of peritonitis-induced septic shock
Description of the Project: Using a rat model of septic shock, I want to find out whether the sequence in which we give antibiotics in combination can affect efficacy (bacterial kill). I am using a synergistic combination of antibiotics, where one of them has a post antibiotic effect - stops bacteria from reproducing for a certain period of time after it’s given - and the other agent only works while the bacteria are duplicating. If we find out that there is better bacterial kill with a certain sequence, we can probably optimize the treatment of septic shock with a simple intervention.
 
Jill Waruk
Home Country: Canada
Degree:

MSc--University of Manitoba

Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Frank Plummer


Epitope mapping and characterization of the binding site of monoclonal antibodies on HIV-1 gp120
Description of the Project: To date, the majority of successful vaccines target antibody responses in humans. A successful HIV vaccine will likely require an antibody-generating component. Epitope mapping of antibodies capable of blocking HIV-1 infection will reveal specific protein sequences involved in HIV-antibody interactions. We hope to discover these interactions and to create a vaccine that will elicit in humans neutralizing antibodies as powerful as those we study in the lab.
 
Yingfeng Zheng
Home Country: Fuzhou, China
Degree: Msc, Fujian Medical University, China
Supervisor:


Project Title:
Dr. Xiaojian Yao


Functional role and molecular mechanism underlying the interplay of HIV-1 integrase with host cofactors
Description of the Project: HIV-1 utilizes many host cellular cofactors to optimize its replication lifecycle. My project focuses on investigation of molecular mechanisms underlying the early stage of HIV-1 replication, especially on HIV-1 integrase/cellular protein interactions required for HIV-1 DNA nuclear import, chromatin targeting and integration. Blocking the key virus-host interaction would provide new strategies for antiviral therapy.

University of Manitoba
University of Nairobi
Canadian Institute of Health Research
Canadian Institute of Health Research
Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences
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