Virology, Immunology & Diagnostics
Working group objectives
- Regularly update a list, prices, and availability of validated tests (RT-PCR, serology, antigen detection etc.)
- Review, adapt, endorse, and/or validate laboratory check lists and SOPs, including sample collection, handling, and analysis
- This working group is transversal, to discuss and provide information on validated diagnostic tools and relevant SOPs, checklists, etc.
Working group members
I am a researcher at IRD, the French Research Institute on sustainable Development. In addition to IRD, my Research department, TransVIHMI, is operating under the auspices of INSERM and the University of Montpellier. My research fields of interest are emerging infectious diseases at the human/wildlife interface in developing countries: sub-Saharan Africa and South East of Asia. Specifically, my interests are focused on the animal reservoirs of viral pathogens and their cross-species transmission to humans. To address these questions, I have contributed to the development and transfer to African countries, of serological and molecular detection tools for multiple viral infections. I mentored several students from Europe, Africa, South East of Asia and South America at master and PhD levels. I have contributed to more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and participated to tens of international scientific conferences.
My primary area of interest interrogates factors of HIV risk in the female genital tract (FGT). I undertake research that is directed to drive innovation in novel basic science research that is focused on elucidating the biological mechanisms and immune correlates of risk or protection secondary to various modalities of PrEP including passive immunization in at-risk populations. The ultimate aim of my research is to prevent infection in women and better protect women with the current HIV prevention modalities that include vaccines, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and combination prevention strategies that we have access to, to advance the field of HIV-1 prevention. My Ph.D. focused on looking at the evolution of the envelope glycoprotein (gp160) of HIV-1 subtype C in slow progressors and progressors and the ensuing neutralizing antibody responses during chronic infection. Having completed my Ph.D. in HIV Molecular Virology and Immunology at the University KwaZulu-Natal (Paediatrics and Child Health) in 2012, I joined the Centre for AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA). During my post-doctoral training, my research focus shifted from immunology in HIV disease and pathogenesis to mucosal immunology for HIV prevention. This shift was specifically to understand and further define the role of mucosal HIV-1 specific binding antibodies, and biomarkers of risk of HIV-1 acquisition in the context of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). I am currently expanding my research focus to further interrogate the interplay between inflammation and the microbiome in the context of PrEP to understand and define the immune predictors of HIV acquisition for which I was recently awarded a European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) Senior Fellowship Grant entitled: “PrEP- Underlying Mucosal immunity Before & After or PUMBA”. Part of this fellowship is to train masters, Ph.D., and Post-doctoral fellows from underrepresented groups to develop the science, research infrastructure, and research capacity in Africa.
Dr Aruna Dharshan De Silva is currently Head of the Biomedical Lab-2 and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University (KDU), Sri Lanka. In addition, he holds an Adjunct Associate Professor position at the La Jolla Institute of Allergy & Immunology, California, USA. He serves as a visiting lecturer in Immunology at IBMBB, University of Colombo.
He is currently the Chairman of the Working committee on Biotechnology at the National Science Foundation, Sri Lanka.
Dr De Silva was the former Director of KDU-CARE from 2017 Nov, till Nov 2019. Before that he was the Director and Senior Scientist at the Genetech Research Institute from 2008 to 2017.
Dr De Silva obtained his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, USA (2000). He has over 10 years of overseas experience working at top –level infectious disease and immunology laboratories and has over 60 international publications.
He has run research labs in Sri Lanka over the last 12 years and conducts research with grants from foreign and local funding agencies to study Dengue, COVID-19, Tuberculosis & the rare disease Melioidosis.
Dr. Shymaa Enany is an associate professor of Microbiology, Suez Canal University, Egypt. She received her PhD from School of Medical Sciences, Niigata University, Japan. Her postdoc was in USA and Japan. She was the first Arab scientist applying microbial proteomic techniques helping in revealing good markers for bacteria spreading in community.
She received many awards for her scientific contributions. Recently, she awarded the most prestigious award in Egypt; the state encouragement prize for women in the field of health and pharmaceutical sciences, 2019. Also, she was awarded The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) Young Arab Scientist Prize 2018 for Scientific Achievement in Medical Sciences. She was selected as a member of Egyptian Young Academy of Science, an evaluator on Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, a reviewer in International Exhibition of Innovation, and an affiliate of The World Academy of Sciences.
Dr Shymaa is also one of scientific committee of World Forum for Women in Science, a selected young leader in STS and WSF, a member in the global Open Science Group, and a collaborator in Global Burden of Disease.
She is one of Microbiology National Committee working for achieving sustainable development goals for a better future. She was appointed as an Egyptian ambassador in Next Einstein Forum (NEF), which showcase the global contribution and potential of scientists from Africa that enabling Africa to get onto the global scientific stage. Latterly, she is selected as an African science leadership program fellow.
Professor Blandina Theophil Mmbaga is the Director of Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute (KCRI) in Moshi, Northern Tanzania. She is also a Paediatrician at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC), a Director of Research and Consultancies at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College, Adjunct Associate Professor at Duke Global Health Institute, and recently appointed Adjunct Professor at University College Cork’s Department of Paediatrics and Child Health. Prof Mmbaga’s PhD in Public Health, from the University of Bergen, Norway, in 2013 examined perinatal mortality in Northern Tanzania, using Birth Registry Data from Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre. She provides mentorship and supervision to several students both within and outside Tanzania who pursue their careers in different fields. Prof Mmbaga’s ability to work with multidisciplinary teams in different areas has enabled her to collaborate with researchers in maternal and child health, infectious diseases including tuberculosis, HIV and zoonoses, and non-communicable diseases. She has been leading the zoonoses disease research under the Zoonoses and emerging livestock system (ZELS) networks including zoonoses disease such as anthrax, Brucella, RVF and Leptospirosis SEED and SEBI. Blandina is also leading several other research activities at KCMC and KCRI in infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS, TB, Antimicrobial-resistant), fever studies, maternal and child health and recently she has expanded research area to non-communicable; cancer and cardiovascular diseases, trauma and alcohol injuries. She is the site PI for the IMPAACT and ACTG clinical trials in Tanzania at the KCMC clinical research site. She likes to provide mentorship to Junior scientist and faculties and support them in achieving the dream in the research field area.
Dr. Winters Muttamba is a public health research scientist, and currently a research fellow at Makerere University Lung Institute. He has special interest in research on lung health related illnesses; mainly TB, Asthma, COPD and COVID-19. He has previously been involved in Xpert MTB/RIF evaluation studies that informed country wide rollout as well as economic evaluations for TB care in Uganda. As Project Manager of the African Severe Asthma Project (ASAP), he contributed to establishment of the single largest cohort of Asthma patients in Eastern Africa. He was involved in setting up the COVID-19 research group (COVIDRES) at Makerere University Lung Institute where he is involved in COVID-19 epidemiology and therapeutic research studies including the COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma trial. He sits on the in-country technical working group of the East African Public Health Laboratory Networking Project.
Dr Kirtika is a Senior Lecturer and Head of Department of Immunology at the School of Medicine at the College of Health Sciences. She earned her PhD from Moi University in 2009. She is involved in teaching, supervising, and examining Immunology to undergraduate and postgraduate students at the various departments in School of Medicine, Dentistry, Public health and Nursing.
Wolfgang Preiser is a medical virologist who specialised in his home town Frankfurt, Germany, and at University College London. He received his second doctoral degree (Habilitation) in 2005 while working as consultant virologist in Frankfurt.
Dr Wilber Sabiiti is Senior Research Scientist at the University of St Andrews specialising in translational diagnostics and antimicrobial resistance research. His research group applies interdisciplinary approaches to maximise uptake and utilisation of diagnostic and treatment tools into policy and practice with special focus on low- and middle- income countries. He co-leads the development and translation of the first molecular test that quantifies tuberculosis bacterial load in hours to monitor response to anti-TB therapy. He graduated with BSc Biochemistry from Makerere University Uganda, MSc Molecular biology from Vrije Univerteit Brussel Belgium and PhD from University of Birmingham UK.
COVID-19 Diagnostics: Their applications and key unanswered questions in low-resource settings
Dr Muki Shey is a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellow (in Public Health & Tropical Medicine) and a Chief Research Officer in the Department of Medicine in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town. Muki is a Principal Investigator and his research group is investigating the immunological and genetics factors contributing to protection against infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis in healthcare workers with sustained occupational exposure. He is also working as Chief Scientist on HIV and TB projects aimed at understanding the reasons for high mortality in severe HIV-associated TB patients. Muki is currently the lead Scientist for T cell immunology on a COVID-19 Phase 1 vaccine currently recruiting in South Africa. Muki previously worked at Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation as a Scientist and Laboratory Manager on clinical trials of novel TB vaccines. Before then he completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, where his research was focused on understanding the mechanisms of HIV transmission across the female genital tract and prevention strategies including the use of topical microbicides. Muki has also previously consulted for the World Health Organisation (WHO) where he was centrally involved in conducting 2 systematic reviews on the safety and efficacy of BCG vaccine to prevent tuberculosis, as well as conducting policy briefs on the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and COVID-19 in the Africa Region.
Aida Sivro, Ph.D., is a senior scientist in the HIV Mucosal Immunology Laboratory at the Center for the AIDS Programme of Research (CAPRISA) and a Senior Honorary Lecturer in the Department of Medical Microbiology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her training is in infectious disease immunology, host genetics, and epidemiology, with a focus on HIV and tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa. Her current research interest center on understanding the role of different CD4+ T cell subsets and interferon responses in HIV and TB pathogenesis.
I am a medical doctor with graduate training (MSc, Fellowship, PhD) in a diverse array of basic science fields (Immunology, Vaccinology, Clinical Microbiology, Genetics and Filovirology). I also hold expert skills-training in Bioentrepeneurship and R & D. Over the past 10 years, I have served as In-Charge of the Unit of Genetics & Genomics (a super-specialized referral centre for children and adults born with rare, Mendelian disease at the Mulago National Reference and Teaching Hospital Complex, Kampala, Uganda). I am member of the African Society for Human Genetics (AfSHG) and Ex-Chair of the Education and Coordinated Working Group (ECTWG) of the H3Africa Consortium. My research interests’ center on pathogen OMICS:-with a focus on identifying new molecular targets for research and development of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. My group has identified, patented and validated reagents (B cell-eptopes, synthetic peptides, recombinant EBOV glycoprotein, monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies, and aptamers) for the R & D of 3 prototypes of a pan-filovirus rapid diagnostic tests-RDTs (Ag, IgM and IgG). Over the past 10 years, we have not only built the necessary expertise and experience, but have also established an ecosystem of partners from across the academia, industry and public private partnerships. For this work and its impact on the 2013-to 2016 EVD outbreak in West Africa, I was listed as # 57 of the 100 most influential Africans of 2015. In 2019, my team won 1st Prize for the WHO innovation Challenge (Product Development), and I was nominated as REACH /RLM finalist. I am current (2019-2020) TWAS-SAREP Young Scientist award winner (Infectious Diseases. I chair the Uganda’s Scientific Advisory Committee on CoVID19 for the Ministry of Health and National Task Force.
Dr. Woods is a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pathology at Duke University, adjunct associate professor in Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Public Health, and adjunct associate professor in the Emerging Infections Program at the Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School. He is Executive Director of the Hubert-Yeargan Center for Global Health, and Associate Director for Applied Genomics in the Duke Center for Applied Genomics & Precision Medicine (CAGPM). Dr. Woods is the Global Health lead for the Duke Tropical Conservation Initiative. Clinically, he is Chief of Infectious Diseases, and hospital epidemiologist for the Durham VA Medical Center. Dr. Woods is board-certified in internal medicine, infectious diseases, and medical microbiology.
Dr. Woods has co-authored over 180 peer-reviewed articles. His research focuses on development of novel diagnostic approaches to infectious disease and potential for interspecies transmission of pathogens. His genomic approach to harnessing the host response for diagnosis of infectious diseases has been called a paradigm shift in the field. He is particularly interested in augmenting medical microbiology capacity in the developing world and epidemiology of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
If you would like to submit a query to the Virology, Immunology & Diagnostics working group, please send us an email.
COVID-19 Diagnostics: Their applications and key unanswered questions in low-resource settings
Setting up biorepositiories and increasing sequencing capacity to respond to SARS-CoV-2 in LMICs