CIDRI-Africa staff, platform leads, academics, mentees, and the Expert Advisory Board gathered for their first Annual Scientific Meeting at Spier Wine Farm on the 17th and 18th of May.
During the first session, attendees were introduced to CIDRI-Africa’s history, current structure and function, past achievements, and future objectives.
“[…]from Emergency Medicine to the New England Journal of Medicine in 14 years”
—Robert J. Wilkinson, speaking on the history and progress of antiretroviral therapy programmes in Khayelitsha township in Cape Town.
To close the first session, Charles Bangham (member of the CIDRI-Africa Expert Advisory Board), addressed the assembly on the mechanisms by which the retrovirus HTLV-1 causes leukaemia in humans. Later, the Platform Lead and Principal Investigator’s mentees presented their projects, which were well received and prompted enthusiastic questions, commentary, and advice from the floor.
Philip Price (Wellcome Trust) and Yolande Harley (UCT) introduced the session on Maximising Value and Mentorship, which was followed by two inspiring and amusing plenaries from Gordon Awandare and Eric Rubin (both CIDRI-Africa Expert Advisory Board) on their scientific careers.
On Friday, CIDRI-Africa Principal and Contributing Investigators continued presenting their work, and new and prospective Wellcome Fellows introduced their projects and outlined their proposals. Helen McIlleron, Mohlopheni Marakalala and Claire Hoving have all recently received Wellcome Fellowships for their respective studies “Using observational PK studies to optimize use of TB drugs”, “Lessons from human TB granulomas: disease progression and HDTs”, and “Host recognition and clearance of Pneumocystis: investigating immune mediators and mechanisms”. Dialogue continued as the meeting dispersed into break-away groups which discussed possible future directions and development of each of the three CIDRI-Africa platforms.