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Africa Centre Collaborations

UCL and LSHTM are keen to support the development of new research collaborations between the university, the Bloomsbury Research Institute (BRI), and the Africa Centre, and have made a number of awards to support the development and progress of joint research activities. Our partnership with the Africa Centre provides the opportunity to develop novel research ideas and collaborations in a vibrant and unique research environment, whilst at the same time maximising the potential and impact of your research.

The Africa Centre for Population Health carries out research on population and health issues affecting a rural population with one of the highest burdens of HIV in the world. The Centre was established in 1998 by the Wellcome Trust in partnership with the South African Medical Research Council, and has recently appointed Professor Deenan Pillay (UCL Infection and Immunity) as Director, on secondment from UCL. The Centre employs more than 500 people, including around 25 scientists.

The cornerstone of the Centre’s research programme is a household demographic survey (currently three times per year) that since 2000 has collected data on births, deaths, marriage and migration events, as well as household economics. The survey covers a population of around 100 000. An annual HIV surveillance study, established in 2003, covers adults 15 years and older, collecting data on HIV status, sexual behaviour and relationships, and other health issues. The Centre has a laboratory base at the Medical School in Durban, with research relating to genomics and HIV pathogenesis.

The demographic surveillance database is complemented with clinical and laboratory data on HIV-infected people attending the clinics before and after ART initiation (supported by a growing next generation genomics laboratory based in the University of KwaZulu Natal Medical School in Durban). This enables the Centre to evaluate trends in the HIV epidemic and the impact of interventions, and to determine outcomes at the individual, household and community levels.

The key questions underpinning the Africa Centre’s future scientific strategy are as follows:

  1. Can HIV be eliminated, from the population, individual or cell, and if not, why not?
  2. How best to limit the morbidity and mortality from HIV related disease, including TB?
  3. How best to manage the epidemiological transition to non-communicable diseases?
  4. How to improve the control of Sexually Transmitted Infections?

The disciplines represented within the Centre span social science, population sciences, and health systems through to genomics and bioinformatics. Their science is undertaken within four programmes each led by a leading academic, namely Epidemiology, Health Systems and Evaluation, Genomics, and Clinical Research. The nature of research is varied, from observational studies, through health systems and prevention trials, to development of bioinformatic tools and biological correlates of disease.

Africa Centre Collaborations Awards

We are interested in developing high-level science collaborations with the Africa Centre, ideally leading to Fellowships and other grant funded research in line with the Africa Centre’s scientific strategy. In 2014 we made the following awards to support this aim:

  • Dr Ariberto Fassati - The impact of co-infections on the size of the HIV-1 latent reservoir
  • Dr Ravi Gupta - Comprehensive assessment of protease inhibitor resistance following second line treatment to inform subsequent antiretroviral strategy in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Dr Hannah Kuper - The relationship between HIV and disability in adults
  • Prof Janet Seeley - Social Science research in adolescent health
  • Dr Maryam Shahmanesh - Whole genome sequencing to inform the epidemiology of STIs in the Africa Centre demographic surveillance area
  • Prof Liam Smeeth - Chronic kidney disease and acute kidney injury
  • Prof Judith Stephenson - Exploring preconception health and care in southern Africa
  • Dr Claire Thorne - Paediatric and adolescent HIV Cohort Studies
  • Prof Helen Weiss - Statistical and Epidemiological collaborations with the MRC Tropical Epidemiology Group