SANTHE supervisor wins Swedish collaborative grant for HIV vaccine project

Monday, 5 March, 2018

Dr Joakim Esbjörnsson, a SANTHE supervisor from Lund University in Sweden, has recently obtained a 12-month 146 000 SEK grant from the Swedish Foundation for International Co-operation in Research and Higher Education (STINT), to enhance collaboration between Lund University, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in Durban, South Africa, and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Kilifi, Kenya, on a study entitled, “Hyperacute HIV-1 Infection – Towards a Functional HIV-1 Cure or Vaccine.”

“STINT’s support will enable us to take the first formal steps towards a close collaboration between Lund, UKZN, and KEMRI, and to launch an exciting research programme that aims to determine potent antibody responses towards the most commonly transmitted HIV-1 strains,” says Esbjörnsson. “This will strengthen the relationship between the three partner institutions and nurture the exchange of scientific expertise and research methodology. Ultimately, we hope to pave the way to fundamentally new insights on how HIV-1 establish disease and how novel cure and vaccine strategies can be designed.”

Through this venture, participating scientists will apply state-of-the-art technologies to rare patient samples available via international collaborations. The translational profile of the research programme takes advantage of the experience and skills in bioinformatics and advanced molecular biology available at the partner sites. To further ensure capacity building, a bioinformatics workshop directed towards students and researchers at the higher education level is included in the plans.

Key partners in the programme are SANTHE Programme Director, Professor Thumbi Ndung’u, representing UKZN, and Professor Eduard Sanders, Co-recipient of the SANTHE grant, representing KEMRI.

STINT was set up by the Swedish Government in 1994 with the mission to internationalise Swedish higher education and research. The organisation promotes knowledge and competence development within internationalisation and invests in internationalisation projects proposed by researchers, educators and leaderships at Swedish universities.