The COE has continued to carry out research in several aspects of HIV care and treatment in order to inform practice and policies. In response to ever increasing number of research projects taking place at the COE, the Management has formed an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to oversee research conducted at the COE and to ensure adherence to the ethical requirements for conducting research using the human subjects. The IRB is composed of seven members, among them two physicians, a psychologist, a dietician, a nurse, a lab technician and a public health specialist. The IRB has developed standard operating procedures to guide its work and for conducting research at the COE and has reviewed three protocols.
The COE Management has also formed the Writing and Publications Committee to spearhead the writing of abstracts for scientific meetings and the writing of scientific manuscripts for publication into peer reviewed journals. The committee is also expected to contribute to writing proposals in response to requests for applications (RFAs). The committee is made up of four members: two physicians, a public health specialist and a development officer. The committee has overseen the successful submission of 13 abstracts to the 16th BIPAI Network Meeting.
All research projects are audited by the Research Audit Unit which has also been formed by the COE Management in compliance with BIPAI policies. Four large studies are currently ongoing:
- The Collaborative African Genomic Networks (CAfGEN) Study (see additional information below)
- Medical Audit of Patients Registered at the Botswana-Baylor Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence
- The Public Health Evaluation (PHE) –Adherence to HAART among HIV positive adolescents
- The impact of providing relatively high risk information by ages and partnership network on sexual behaviour of Botswana youth.
Highlight: Collaborative African Genomics Network (CAfGEN)
Currently, the COE is the coordinating centre for a study of genetic factors that affect the progression of HIV and TB in children living in sub-Saharan Africa. The COE received a research grant of $3.64 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the United States to coordinate the Collaborative African Genomics Network (CAfGEN), made up of the Botswana-Baylor Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence, the University of Botswana, the Baylor Uganda Children’s Foundation, Makerere University and Baylor College of Medicine. The grant is part of the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) Initiative that aims to facilitate cutting edge research approaches to the study of genomics and environmental determinants of common diseases with the goal of improving the health of African populations.
The mission of CAfGEN is to create, as part of the H3Africa Consortium, a collaborative, multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional, inter- and intra-country network of African scientists, clinicians, and researchers to use genomics approaches to study gene/pathogen interactions for HIV/AIDS, its co-morbidities, and other diseases among diverse paediatric African populations. In addition to an active Community Advisory Board representing diverse stakeholder groups, the COE incorporates genomics and research ethics concepts into the Teen Club adolescent life skills education curriculum; conducts educational workshops for community members and the media; and has published and translated a series of comic books as part of the Welcome Trust-funded Genome Adventures project to help educate lay people and youth on the essentials of genomics and biomedical research.