Development of the UB-UZ HRTP

The UB-UZ antiretroviral pharmacology training initiative was initiated in 2002 in collaboration with the NIAID AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) and resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding between UB and UZ and the initial implementation of a collaborative research program. Through a two-year supplement to the UC Berkeley HRTP (A. Reingold-PI) in 2005, a more formalized training program was established between UB and UZ and provided the opportunity to train two new UZ postgraduate students. This effort has resulted in our current growth into a multidisciplinary HRTP between UB and the UZ College of Health Sciences.

The UB Pharmacotherapy Research Center (PRC), including the PRC Core Analytical Laboratory (PRC CAL), was the primary focus for initial training programs. The PRC CAL began HIV research when the ACTG was developed in 1987 as a NIAID-supported, ACTG Pharmacology Specialty Laboratory (PSL). The PRC-CAL has subsequently received funding from multiple NIH sources including NIDA, NIMH and the Fogarty International Center. Many of the past experiences of the UB PSL also formed the foundation for recently established UZ-UB International Center for HIV Pharmacology Research Training (ICHAPRT) in Zimbabwe. The ICHAPRT, directed by Dr. Charles Chiedza Maponga, Co-PI and Collaborator on this UB-UZ HRTP, leads an effort to increase antiretroviral access while implementing clinical and translational pharmacology research programs to evaluate HIV/AIDS medicines in a multidisciplinary environment.

The UB-UZ HRTP postgraduate fellowship training initiative provides a sound approach to addressing the needs in Zimbabwe and lead to a greater clinical research capacity comprised of well-trained investigators who will contribute to multidisciplinary research teams. The well recognized antiretroviral pharmacology research programs that have been established at UB will provide an excellent training environment for integrating antiretroviral therapeutics and medication management, patient education and adherence counseling and applied clinical pharmacology research with multidisciplinary research teams. The UB PRC CAL provides an opportunity for the HRTP fellows to be mentored by established investigators in bioanalytical methods and pharmacogenomics research. These skills are essential to conduct bioequivalency studies in a region where counterfeit drugs and generic formulations contribute to the overall challenge of implementing and sustaining effective antiretroviral therapy. In addition, UB and UZ faculty mentors have a variety of NIH funded research projects that will supplement the clinical pharmacology opportunities.

The UB-UZ HRTP has developed a training strategy that allows future Zimbabwe researchers to gain valuable experience at UB and return to UZ to complete their studies. The program has a system for following-up the developing researchers, providing them with guidance in preparing publications and presentations for scientific conferences, as well as offering them opportunities for repeat visits to UB for further mentoring in advanced scientific techniques. While our program has an emphasis in clinical pharmacology, we recognize the importance of exposing the fellows to a multidisciplinary environment to ensure a well-balanced research training experience. This will be accomplished through the efforts of UB and UZ faculty and clinicians.