Collaborative Biomedical Research Grant awarded

22 January 2015

The US-South Africa Program for Collaborative Biomedical Research (R01) grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) was awarded to Dr. Lenine Liebenberg, Research Associate at CAPRISA, and Professor David Celentano at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The grant of USD$333,574 over a period of two years will fund Liebenberg’s and Celentano’s research on the link between human papillomavirus (HPV) clearance and increased risk of HIV acquisition.

The RO1 funds will be used to investigate the immune biomarkers of genital inflammation associated with HPV clearance, given that HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) and is thus an important potential cause for genital inflammation.
The study will elaborate on preliminary data from the CAPRISA 004 trial that demonstrated an increased risk of HIV infection in the context of genital inflammation and aims to support the hypothesis that the very immune cells recruited to control HPV infection are those that promote an optimum environment for HIV infection.

An elated Dr Liebenberg said that the funding presented “a wonderful opportunity to improve the understanding of genital HPV-associated immune responses and to determine whether the immune correlates of HPV infection are associated with HIV infection. I am especially grateful to be the recipient of an R01 award at this early stage of my career."
The South African Medical Research Council and the U.S NIH jointly initiated this funding opportunity designed to strengthen South African science through collaborations with US scientists.