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Juan Carlos Alzate Ángel 
Home Country: Envigado, Colombia

Universidad de Antioquia. Doctoral Student – Epidemiology. 3rd year

MSc Clinical Sciences. Universidad de Antioquia. 2016.

Medicine. Universidad de Antioquia. 2002


Project Title:
Carlos Alberto Rojas Arbeláez. MD, PhD

Causes of acquired resistance to antiretrovirals in people living with HIV in Colombia
Description of the Project: HIV infection is considered a chronic disease which is possible to control with antiretroviral drugs. These drugs are currently highly effective and safe for the patients. However, when adherence to the regimens are not complete, resistance to antiretrovirals can emerge. Although the main mechanism to this resistance is biological, because the cause are mutations in the HIV gene pol mainly, behind of this mechanism there are several issues that are important and relevant in the context of a disease with biological, personal and social factors that influence its evolution in every person in a different form. This project will evaluate a cohort of people living with HIV in 10 cities of Colombia that started their antiretroviral therapy between 2016 and 2020 to understand how these factors can be cause of acquired antiretroviral resistance.
Tejaswini B Darukaradhya 
Home Country: Bangalore, India

1st Year PhD Student, M.S. Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

M.D.S (Public Health Dentistry), Faculty of Dental Sciences, MS Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

M.S (Counselling and Psychotherapy), Kuvempu University, Shimoga, Karnataka, India

B.D.S, M.S Ramaiah Dental College and Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India


Project Title:
Dr. Krishnamurthy Jayanna c

Socio-cognitive Theory approach to Improve Healthy Lifestyles and Behaviors among Adolescents as part of primary NCD Programs in South India
Description of the Project: Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are a global health challenge and a threat to mankind. In India also, there is gradual shift in disease trends towards such chronic lifestyle diseases being multifactorial with more focus on behavioural riskfactors. These behavioural riskfactors are rooted in adolescents and young adults predisposing to the development of NCDs. Hence adolescents and young adults being identified as a major at-risk group needs behavioural change intervention very early. Such behavioural intervention based on Social-cognitive theory (SCT) in program planning for health promotion and disease prevention will have bigger impact on rest of their life. This study tries to review existing efforts of health systems and national programs to address individual behaviours and also to assess the effectiveness of SCT approach implementation as part of primary NCD Programs in improving healthy lifestyles and behaviours.
Diana Marcela Marín Pineda
Home Country: Medellín, Colombia

Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, doctoral student in Biomedical Sciences, emphasis in Epidemiology, 2nd year

Master’s degree in epidemiology, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia, 2011

Bachelor’s degree. Statistician, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia 2006


Dr. Zulma Rueda

Project Title:

Effect of short and long term exposure to air pollution on acute respiratory symptoms, genotoxic and mutagenic damages in children under 5 years.

Description of the Project: Increased air pollution levels have adverse short and long-term effects on health, especially in children. In Colombia, 19,397 annual deaths in 2016 were attributed to air pollution and the additional healthcare cost was estimated at USD900.000. My study aims at investigating the effects of outdoor air pollution on heath in children under 5 year-olds. The one-year follow-up will concentrate on measuring cell damage, health outcome and hospitalization rates. The study will combine environmental and basic sciences with clinical and epidemiological information to provide a scientific base for future health-oriented environmental pollution control programmes.
Oliver Waithaka Mbuthia
Home Country: Nairobi, Kenya

University of Nairobi, PhD, Year 1
MPH., Epidemiology, Mount Kenya University
M.Sc., Infectious Diseases, Kenyatta University
B.Sc., Medical Laboratory Science, Kenyatta University


Prof Julius Oyugi

Project Title:

Helicobacter pylori virulence genes, bacterial gene mutation to antibiotics and gut microbiota correlates for early detection of gastric cancer..

Description of the Project: Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a group 1 carcinogen agent, is the strongest risk factor in over 70% of gastric cancer cases and accounts for 7.5% of all cancers worldwide. Human gut is rich with microbiota that is correlated to health and disease, but the interplay of microbes, host and disease is needed to decipher management of gastric diseases. Understanding H. pylori genetic predisposition and the diversity of gut microbiota are key targets in the development and formulation of adoptable diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive tools. Laboratory tests used during routine H. pylori diagnosis to confirm the infection have limited use in giving conclusive decision to initiate therapy in the context of high H. pylori prevalence. The need for noninvasive region-specific, highly sensitive and specific detection tools that can early diagnose gastric cancer and initiate appropriate treatment is critical. This study, therefore, aims to determine correlates of gastric disease occurrence, its progression and/or prognosis and evaluate the efficacy of different stool processing techniques to early diagnosis H. pylori-associated gastric adenocarcinoma.
Avinash V Prabhu
Home Country: Manipal, Karnataka State, India

Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences, PhD, 1 year

M.Sc Optometry (2012-2014) from Manipal University

B.Sc Optometry (2007-2011) from Manipal University

Dr. Krishnamurthy Jayanna
Project Title:
Role of technology in the diagnosis and management of Glaucoma in India
Description of the Project: Glaucoma reports a global prevalence of 3.54%, among which Primary Angle Closure Glaucoma (PACG) is 1.09% in Asia and Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) is 4.20% in Africa. 111.8 million population is estimated to have glaucoma by 2040. This era of technology, has introduced new and sophisticated techniques in glaucoma detection and management. This has led to the need in identifying the effective technology option in early glaucoma detection and screening at the community level. This work envisages to report the practioners challenge, experience and perspective on glaucoma detection with existing technology. This work attempts to collaborate with one of the startup companies and utilize their innovative & integrated artificial intelligence device (perimetry/fundus photography) in early detection of glaucoma at a community level.
Zachary Schiffman
Home Country: Montreal, Quebec

University of Manitoba, Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Ph.D. student

B.Sc. Honours Biochemistry (Co-op) with Distinction, Concordia University

Dr. Michael Drebot
Project Title:
Elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern filovirus pathogenesis with emphasis on Marburg virus
Description of the Project: In recent years, the domestic ferret has become increasingly popular as a small animal model for evaluating transmission and pathogenesis of filoviruses as well as efficacy of candidate vaccines and/or therapeutics. Interestingly, recent studies have demonstrated that infection in ferrets with the ebolaviruses Ebola virus, Sudan virus, Bundibugyo virus and Reston virus results in uniform lethality, whereas infection with the marburgviruses Marburg virus and Ravn virus is not lethal and does not cause disease. The fact that ferrets are highly susceptible to lethal infection with certain ebolaviruses but not marburgviruses, suggests that these viruses differ fundamentally in their pathogenic mechanisms, despite being phylogenetically related. As such, the aim of my Ph.D. thesis project is to develop a better understanding of filovirus pathogenesis, with a particular emphasis on Marburg virus, by elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern Marburg and Ebola virus infection both in vitro and in vivo, with the goal of identifying novel therapeutic targets.
Brayden Schindell
Home Country: Winnipeg, Canada

University of Manitoba Doctoral Student, Masters Transition 3 year

BSc (Maj. - Microbiology) University of Manitoba

Dr. Jason Kindrachuk
Project Title:
Investigation of filovirus sex-specific reproductive tract tropism and long-term post- recovery health consequences
Description of the Project: My project focuses on the mechanisms of persistence by filoviruses including Ebola virus within the reproductive tracts of both male and potentially female filoviral disease survivors. There are very few reports of potential female reproductive tract persistence however, and we believe this is due to a lack of investigation that I hope to address mechanistically similarly to what I am conducting for testicular persistence. Ebola virus is known to persist within 50% of male survivors for at least 3.5 months with known cases of persistence up to at least 38.5 months (a little over 3 years). Along with reported cases of sexual transmission occurring up to 18 months from recovery of EVD. While conducting research on these projects I will also be helping run a cohort study of EVD survivors who had recorded cases of persistent infections following recovery for effects of persistent infection on their long term reproductive health.
Vanessa Schulz
Home Country: Winnipeg, Canada

MSc. 2nd year, Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease, University of Manitoba

BSc. Honours Biology, University of Winnipeg

Dr. Paul McLaren
Project Title:
Identification of HIV escape mutations to a novel host genomic locus associated with control of HIV replication
Description of the Project: HIV set point viral load (spVL) is known to be associated with and a predictor of HIV progression. There is variability in spVL between individuals which results in variable disease progression that is affected by HIV-host interactions; including genetic variation. Because spVL is a quantifiable clinical marker for disease progression, a host genome-wide association study (GWAS) can elucidate variants that are associated with reduced spVL. A recent GWAS of HIV+ individuals of African ancestry identified a novel host locus on chromosome 1 that is associated with the control of HIV replication. However, despite the presence of protective variants on chromosome 1, some individuals still experience high spVLs. Given the high mutation rate and short generation time of HIV it is hypothesized that HIV is developing escape mutations in response to pressure from variants on chromosome 1. My project aims to identify escape mutations in HIV in response to host pressure through genome-genome analyses. My project will identify significant variants in African populations that can help assess HIV control in communities with varying levels of transmission risk. In addition, this project will identify natural mechanisms of HIV control promoting functional studies towards the development of novel therapeutic and prevention strategies.
Elinor Shvartsman
Home Country: Israel

2nd year PhD student, University of Mantioba

BSc. Microbiology Major minoring in chemistry and biology-University of Manitoba

Dr. Kelly MacDonald
Project Title:
Delineating the Temporal Relationship of the Cervicovaginal Microbiota, Immune Activation States, and Soluble Inflammatory Markers in Kenyan Women at Low Risk to HIV
Description of the Project: Relavent to women’s health, certain vaginal microbial communities have been linked to increased susceptibility to HIV, however the mechanism by which these communities may increase risk are ucnlear. The relative paucity of longitudinal studies investigating temporal changes in the cervicovaginal microbiota and markers of inflammation including solule inflammatory markers and immune activation in the lower female genital tract have hampered our understanding of the association between cervicovaginal microbial communities and cervicovaginal immunity. Using a cohort of reproductive aged Kenyan women sampled approximately monthly for 48 weeks, my research focuses on delineating the temporal association between specific vaginal bacterial communities immune activation and soluble markers of inflammation.
Delories Sikuku
Home Country: Vihiga, Kenya

Master of Science in Medical Microbiology Year 2, University of Nairobi, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology

Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science and Technology. University of Nairobi, Department of Pathology

Prof Julius O Oyugi
Project Title:
The effect of acetylsalicylic acid on Th17 cells in the peripheral blood and the genital tract of HIV-negative female sex workers in Nairobi, Kenya.
Description of the Project: There are individuals who despite being exposed to HIV on multiple occasions, have remained HIV seronegative and are termed as Highly Exposed Seronegative (HESN). An example of this HESN population is the female sex workers (FSWs) population from Nairobi, who have been in sex work for more than 7 years and are still HIV negative despite being at a higher risk of infection. Studies have revealed a low level of inflammation at the female genital tract of these women, which could be protective against HIV. In my project, acetylsalicylic acid, an anti-inflammatory drug, will be used to modulate host factors critical for infection by reducing inflammation. The effect of the drug on the proportions and activation markers of Th17 cells, which is a subset of HIV target cells, will be assessed.

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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