CIPHER 2016 Grantees

CIPHER was pleased to launch its largest round of grants, worth US$ 1,200,000, at the 8th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Vancouver. Once again the programme saw a huge response, underlining the need for funding opportunities for early stage researchers in paediatric HIV. After a rigorous review process, seven projects were selected. The selected projects span the CIPHER priority research topics: five of the projects address clinical research gaps and two address operational research gaps. An official CIPHER award ceremony was held on 20 July 2016 at the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) in Durban, South Africa and a press release was issued the day before.

We are delighted to welcome the seven researchers to the CIPHER Grant Programme and look forward to following their progress over the coming years:

  • Amara Ezeamama of Nigeria, with the Michigan State University, Dept. of Psychiatry
    Chronic HIV, executive function, psychosocial adjustment and quality of life in Ugandan school-aged children – A study of long-term functional survival with perinatal HIV infection and exposure.
  • Watsamon Jantarabenjakul of Thailand, with the Chulalongkorn University
    Neurodevelopmental and neuroanatomical outcomes in early antiretroviral treated young children with perinatally acquired HIV infection (PHIV) compared to age matched perinatally HIV exposed uninfected children (PHEU).
  • Gabriel Loni Ekali of Cameroon, with the Biotechnology Center
    Impact of in utero and breastfeeding exposure to TDF on renal function in HIV exposed uninfected children in Cameroon.
  • Mcneil Ngongondo of Malawi, with the UNC Project
    A pharmacokinetic evaluation of TDF and ATV exposure in HIV exposed breastfeeding infants of mothers taking TDF/3TC/ATV/r.
  • Dorina Onoya of South Africa, with the Wits Health Consortium
    Understanding predictors of early antenatal care initiation and patterns of postpartum maternal mobility in relation to paediatric HIV diagnosis and linkage to HIV care in Gauteng province, South Africa.
  • Latoya Small of the United States, with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    VUKA EKHAYA: A take home family intervention to improve adherence and reduce behavioural risk among perinatally HIV infected youth.
  • Louis-Marie Yindom of Cameroon, with The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford, UK
    HIV associated chronic lung disease (CLD) in older vertically infected children and adolescents: studies of aetiology and predictive biomarkers.

Grantees award ceremony at AIDS 2016

From left to right:Linda-Gail Bekker, Louis-Marie Yindom, Gabriel Loni Ekali, Watsamon Jantarabenjakul, Amara Ezeamama, McNeil Ngongondo, Dorina Onoya and Latoya Small.© IAS/Rogan Ward

Response and selection

By the 31 October 2015 deadline, 72 LOIs had been submitted for proposals for research to take place in 29 countries. Of these, 55 were eligible. The targeted research priorities were well distributed across the LOIs, with 27 applications addressing clinical priorities and 28 addressing operational priorities.

The initial screening and scoring of the LOIs were carried out by the CIPHER Research Grant Working Group and additional invited experts. Each LOI was evaluated based on the proposal’s potential contribution to addressing the identified research question, its overall quality, the novelty and innovation of the approach, as well as the applicant’s experience. Twenty-five applicants were invited to submit a full proposal. Each full proposal was reviewed by three independent experts in the subject area of the project. Final selection was primarily based on the reviewers’ scores and overall public health impact of the proposed research, with gender, topic and country distribution as secondary considerations.


The content and structure of CIPHER is guided by experts in paediatric HIV convened by the IAS.