Global Fellows Research Academy

Mkunde Chachage

Nationality: Tanzania
Institution: National Institute for Medical Research, Mbeya Medical Research Center
Country of work: Tanzania

What is your motivation for engaging in HIV cure and remission research?

Growing in a region which remains the most severely burdened by HIV infection is what drove my ambitions in a career in HIV research, with interest participating in initiatives aimed at improving HIV prognosis of people living with HIV. I therefore began my career at NIMR-MMRC by engaging in studies that investigated immunologic interactions between HIV and other pathogens. I became increasingly interested in HIV cure research, especially on the potential role NK cells as effector cells in killing strategies, particularly against elimination of HIV reservoirs when I took up a post-doctoral position in the HIV pathogenesis laboratory of Professor Anthony Jaworowski at the Burnet Institute, Australia (2015-2016). I currently lead an immunology laboratory, which supports immunogenicity testing during HIV preventive and therapeutic vaccine trials.

What is your current area of research?

I am an early-career researcher at NIMR-Mbeya Medical Research Center (NIMR-MMRC) and currently involved in an “HIV and HPV interaction” study where I lead efforts to characterize HPV-specific T cell responses in relation to HPV disease, and to HIV and HAART status. As an HVTN member, I participate in supporting HIV therapeutic and preventive vaccine trials conducted at NIMR-MMRC, using novel vaccine candidates and vaccination regimen. I also supervise a well-established immunology laboratory at MMRC, which focuses on immune monitoring efforts during HIV vaccine trials and development of novel TB immunodiagnostics.