SANTHE PhD trainee wins prestigious CFAR award

Thursday, 20 February, 2020

Kaelo Seatla, a SANTHE PhD trainee based at the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) in Gaborone, has received a prestigious one-year Harvard University Center for AIDS Research (HU CFAR) Developmental Award of  $60,000 USD for his project entitled, “Genotyping/Phenotyping subtype-C HIV-1 from patients failing DTG-ART, Botswana.”

The main aim of the study is to perform a complete genotypic and phenotypic characterisation of subtype-C viruses from individuals failing Dolutegravir (DTG) based regimens. This has potential to unravel novel DTG drug resistance mutational pathways specific to subtype-C virus and improve patient care. This study is an extension of Seatla’s current PhD work.

Seatla, who is also a Medical Science student in Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Botswana, says he owes much of his success to Shahin Lockman, his Harvard University mentor; Daniel Kuritzkes’s laboratory - where he will learn novel phenotypic HIV drug resistance testing assays, which he will transfer to BHP for use in scientific research and patient care; and his local mentors and supervisors, Simani Gaseitsiwe, Ishmael Kasvosve, Ava Avalos and Sikhulile Moyo. “Without their support and mentorship, this award would not have been possible.”

The highly competitive HU CFAR welcomes proposals for Developmental Awards for research in all HIV-related disciplines on an annual basis. The awards provide both salary and research support for promising early-career investigators who are transitioning to independent funding.