Mentored Research

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Trainee Research Projects

In response to the need for training in HIV-related transfusion medicine and hematology our program leverages our faculty’s existing research in South Africa as well as our NHLBI-funded REDS-III HIV research network to provide research projects for trainees. We have substantial experience in matching the specific skills and interest of each trainee to a particular type and difficulty of research project as well as choice of mentor.

  • Trainees participating in the in-country short-course develop projects that can be accomplished with existing data or with minimal additional staffing and resources at their current place of employment (e.g. blood center, hematology clinic). Most of these trainees will be mentored by core program faculty at their home institution.
  • Selected trainees who show the initiative to complete these initial projects are then guided towards more ambitious secondary projects during the medium-term training in San Francisco or as part of their potential master's degree training in Cape Town. For these projects, the REDS-III HIV research network and funded HIV research at UCT can provide substantial resources for research in HIV-related transfusion medicine and hematology.

Examples of Mentored HIV Research Projects

Here are examples of how HIV research questions appropriate for trainees could be carried out in several focus areas:

Impact of HIV infection on obstetric hemorrhage, blood transfusion and other perinatal outcomes
(Mentors: Ingram, Crookes, Murphy)

Preliminary results from REDS-III case-control (TIP) study support our hypothesis that HIV-related anemia predisposes pregnant women to transfusion in relation to obstetric hemorrhage (Bloch et al. Transfusion 2015).

  • Can early detection and treatment of HIV-related anemia obviate the need for blood transfusion?
  • Are transfusion practice guidelines appropriate and are they being followed in obstetric practice?
  • Which transfusion threshold (hemoglobin value) is safe and effective in post-partum women?

HIV-related lymphomas
(Mentors Verburgh, Louw, Kaplan)

  • What is the diagnostic pathway for HIV+ lymphomas, and can diagnostic efficiency be improved?
  • Randomized trials of diagnostic modalities to improve sensitivity and specificity and resource utilization.
  • What is the role of imaging (e.g. PET) in high grade HIV lymphomas and differential diagnosis vs. TB?

HIV-related anemia and thrombocytopenia
(Mentors Verburgh, Ingram, Louw)

  • What is the etiology of anemia in HIV positive patients with and without ART (41)?
  • Determine diagnostic and treatment algorithms to improve management of HIV-related anemia.
  • Is laparoscopic splenectomy an effective treatment for HIV-related thrombocytopenia in LMIC?

Prevalence and incidence of HIV infection
(Mentors Vermeulen, Custer, Reddy)

  • What is HIV incidence in first-time blood donors as exemplars of the South African general population?
  • Studying the “false recency” rate and mathematical theory underlying incidence calculations.
  • Use audio-computer assisted survey instruments (ACASI) to identify novel HIV risk factors.

Parallel HIV antibody and nucleic acid testing of all blood donations allows the identification of hyper-acute HIV infection for HIV cure studies
(Mentors Murphy, Deeks, van den Berg)

  • Impact on HIV virology and immunology of early ART in persons identified with acute HIV infection?
  • Is the size of the HIV reservoir (by leukapheresis) affected by delay between infection and treatment?
  • What are immunologic and genetic characteristics of HIV Elite controllers?