Savannah Mwesigwa

SANTHE Post-doctoral Fellow

Uganda CWRU Research Collaboration (UCRC) Kampala, Uganda


Mitochondrial profiles of an African HIV-1 pediatric population at the extremes of disease progression

Collaboration Interests
  • Bioinformatics
  • Host/pathogen genomics
  • Immunology

Savannah Mwesigwa is a research fellow at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, where he also obtained his PhD. For his doctoral studies, he used a next-generation sequencing approach known as  Whole Exome Sequencing (WES) to examine the genetic factors underlying HIV disease progression in a pediatric African cohort. This cohort included long-term non-progressors (LTNP), a phenotype observed in about 10% of children born with HIV who take more than ten years to progress to AIDS. Typically WES is used to study the protein-coding regions of the genome (exome); however, Mwesigwa utilised an unconventional approach to extract and analyse “off-target” DNA reads from WES data that map to viral DNA. His research investigated the relationship between co-infecting viruses and pediatric HIV disease progression. His research findings identified a connection between co-infection with viruses such as the Anelloviriade and LTNP status. If further validated, these viruses could serve as critical markers for HIV disease progression or immune status. For his post-doc training, he is using the same pediatric cohort to investigate the role of mitochondrial genetics in pediatric HIV progression.

SANTHE is an Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) flagship programme funded by the Science for Africa Foundation through the DELTAS Africa programme; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Gilead Sciences Inc.; and the Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT, and Harvard.