Phylogenetics And Networks for Generalised HIV Epidemics in Africa


Harvard University

The Botswana-Harvard AIDS Initiative Partnership

The Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) is a collaborative research and training initiative established in 1996 between the Government of Botswana and the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative. The primary goal of the BHP is to help end the AIDS epidemic in Africa by conducting basic and clinical research relevant to southern Africa and by building capacity within Botswana. The research at BHP focuses on epidemiology, virology, molecular biology, immunology, genetics, clinical treatment, and social and behavioral issues relevant to the epidemic in Botswana and southern Africa.

The BHP has been a part of the PANGEA consortium since 2013. We envision this collaboration as mutually beneficial. Our scientific interests in the design of public health interventions mitigating and controlling HIV transmission dynamics, accompanied by our broad and extensive expertise in clinical trials in Botswana over the last 18 years are valuable assets for the PANGEA consortium. Through collaboration with PANGEA, we hope to advance our methodological approaches, develop novel analyses, and implement new methods of viral sequencing and analysis. Data generated through the PANGEA consortium should help us to advance scientific programs and projects in Botswana, which is aiming to achieve an HIV-free generation.

The BHP contributes specimens from clinical trials in Botswana for near full-length HIV-1 genome sequencing through the PANGEA WP2. Two BHP studies, the Mochudi Prevention Project (MPP) and Botswana Combination Prevention Project (BCPP), participate in collaboration with PANGEA. Viral genotyping is part of both MPP and BCPP studies. Applying new technology that leads to extending of HIV-1 genotypes to the size of near full-length viral genome should improve the quality of our phylogenetic linkage analysis and make genotyping results more informative for the MPP and BCPP studies.

From left to right:  Melissa Zahralban-Steele, Dr. Victor De Gruttola, Dr. Max Essex, Dr. Vladimir Novitsky in the Essex Lab at the Harvard School of Public Health