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Uganda Laboratory

A distinguishing characteristic and highlight of the CWRU CFAR is the strong emphasis it places on international biomedical research, with a particular focus on developing countries. The longstanding 25+ year research relationship between CWRU, primarily represented by the CWRU CFAR and the CWRU TBRU, the government of Uganda and Makerere University has led to the development of an extensive research infrastructure in Uganda.

CWRU was one of the first US academic institutions to integrate a research approach involving teaching, training, and employment. Currently over 200 Ugandan scientists and health care professionals are actively involved in our collaborative programs.

A major limitation to new initiatives in the developing world is the lack of state-of-the-art laboratory facilities on site. The Case CFAR has fostered seminal studies on TB and HIV/AIDS by providing a state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities for clinical virology and molecular biology in Uganda. All the research laboratories Virology/Molecular Biology, Immunology, Mycobacterial, and STD laboratories are directed on site by Ugandans, all of whom have received advanced degrees from CWRU through the Fogarty AIDS Training Program.

The specific objectives of the Uganda Laboratory Core

  • To provide comprehensive laboratory services to facilitate HIV/AIDS-related research projects of CFAR investigators
  • To advertise these services, process requests, and coordinate research-based assays through the Uganda Laboratory Core
  • To provide a mechanism for training of Ugandan scientists in collaboration with CWRU and Fogarty AIDS Training Grant

History

The formal collaboration between CWRU/UHC, Makerere University, and the Ugandan Ministry of Health began in August 1988 through program project support by an International Collaboration for AIDS Research (ICAR) grant from the NIH. In 1989, the Fogarty International Center (NIH) funded the AIDS International Training and Research (AITRP) training grant to CWRU to support degree and non-degree training of Ugandans in the US and Uganda.


Our first CFAR Director, Dr. Stuart Le Grice had the foresight to recognize that HIV/AIDS related research activities in developing countries would become a focus for both NIH and worldwide organizations. In 1997, Dr. Arts and the Case CFAR recognized that the research infrastructure in Uganda did not include an adequate laboratory for molecular HIV and virology studies. To extend these services, CFAR funds were used in 2001 to purchase an automated DNA sequencer and other small equipment for the CFAR Core JCRC Virology Laboratory. During the last period of funding (2004-2009), we expanded our services through the purchase of a Beckman-Coulter CEQ 800 sequencer and a BD LSRII flow cytometer (purchased in 2010 through a collaborative partnership with USAID, PEPFAR, and the JCRC in Uganda).


The CFAR is now responsible for the comprehensive coordination of all CWRU laboratory resources at the JCRC through the Uganda Laboratory Core. The onsite laboratories at JCRC (mycobacteriology, clinical chemistry, immunology, virology) carry out standardized and essential assays for clinical research projects. The majority of services (>3000 processing samples, >5000 assays and >$250,000/yr in net core services) are provided the CFAR Molecular Biology and Virology laboratories. The core now supports over 10 CWRU projects from CFAR investigators as well as over several projects directed by John Hopkins University, UCSF, NIAID, NICHD, WHO, and European Union. We are now entering a new phase for the CFAR Uganda Laboratory Core. The entire JCRC and the CFAR, and CWRU laboratories are moving from their present location in Mengo Hill, Kampala to Lubowa, Entebbe Rd., Kampala (September, 2009) . This new facility was necessary to meet the expanded requests for assays and services.

Significance of the Core

Through its ability to coordinate and leverage laboratory resources, the Case CFAR Uganda Laboratory Core is playing a pivotal role in promoting AIDS research in Africa. Currently, the core provides or has provided services to studies that focus on:

  • HIV-1 pathogenesis
  • HIV-1 drug resistance
  • vertical transmission
  • neurodevelopment of HIV-infected children
  • HIV and tuberculosis interaction
  • IND phase I/II trials of promising immunoadjuvants for TB treatment
  • HIV seroincidence
  • preparation for AIDS vaccines
  • impact on hormonal contraception on HIV-1 acquisition
  • the first phase I HIV preventive vaccine trial on the African continent (recombinant canarypox vector vaccine - ALVAC HIV vCP205).

Researchers who utilize CWRU/UH Center for AIDS Research services are strongly encouraged to cite the CFAR in all publications resulting from the use of CFAR services. CWRU/UH Center for AIDS Research: NIH Grant Number: P30 AI036219.