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Capacity building, and strengthening, are integral to the VITALITY Trial work plan. Clinical research network capacity building generally refers to programs that aim at enhancing networks of researchers to conduct clinical research.  Currently, within the consortium, the main area of capacity building is through the training of PhD and MSc students. We are able to offer an enabling environment, mentorship and supervision to train and educate students and junior researchers.  

From September 2021, students have been recruited in both Zambia and Zimbabwe and, are being jointly supervised by scientists from across our large international multi-centre consortium This will increase scientific and research capacity through the training of these local students. 

As expected, PhD meetings, upgrading and pre-viva PhD seminars and other research meetings will be held as well as regular online teaching seminars focused on topics such as data management, statistics, study design, quantitative and qualitative data collection. These seminars will be open to all researchers, study staff and students across the sites.

Emily will shortly be starting a PhD in Immunology, funded by the MRC-LID* based in London at SGUL, LSHTM and the University of Oxford. She has recently completed her BSc in Biological Sciences at Durham University. In her 3rd year, she did a year-long placement at GSK in R&D performing immunological research. Her research entailed developing and validating clinical biomarker assays for genotype-based patient stratification in an autoimmune clinical trial. 
Research Project:
Her PhD research project involves investigating the impact of Vitamin D supplementation on immune responses to respiratory pathogens in older children with perinatally-acquired HIV-1 infection who are participating in the VITALITY clinical trial in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Professor Derek Macallan St George’s, University of London (SGUL); Professor Suzanne Filteau (LSHTM); Professor Sarah Rowland-Jones (University of Oxford). 
MRC LID is a partnership between St George’s, University of London and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.


Emily Carr

Tafadzwa is a biostatistician by training from the University of Zimbabwe, currently supporting observational and longitudinal musculoskeletal studies at Biomedical Research and Training Institute (BRTI). His role involves developing statistical plans and performing the subsequent analyses. He is an aspiring PhD research fellow in Epidemiology and Population Health at LSHTM with interests in HIV, modelling mechanistic bone pathways and skeletal growth in children.

Research Project:

Antiretroviral therapy has substantially improved paediatric survival, such that children living with HIV (CWH) are now ageing into adulthood. However, their growth is often characterised by stunting and pubertal delay. Calcium and vitamin D3 are among the nutritional factors that play critical roles in bone mineralization though often deficient in CWH resident in low income countries. This increases bone turnover resulting in reduced bone density, low bone mass and overall bone strength in this population.

Starting in September 2021, Tafadzwa's research will focus on the mechanistic understanding of Vitamin D, calcium and bone metabolism during adolescent skeletal growth in children living with HIV.


Assistant Professor Andrea Rehman (LSHTM); Professor Celia Gregson (University of Bristol),; Professor Kate Ward (University of Southampton); Professor Rashida Ferrand (LSHTM); Assistant Professor Vicky Simms (LSHTM).

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Tafadzwa Madanhire

Karen is a PhD candidate under the VITALITY project and will begin her research in September 2021. She holds a Master of Science degree in Medical Parasitology by research and a Bachelor of science degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Zambia (UNZA). She has also received various trainings in Bioinformatics from the Swedish University of Agriculture Sciences (SLU) and Molecular Biology from UNZA during her MSc program. 


Karen has over four years’ experience in Biomedical research and is currently affiliated with the Center for Family Health Research in Zambia (CFHRZ).  At CFHRZ, she works as a Laboratory Scientist and conducts molecular work for the various studies currently running at the site. She has a growing interest in in the fields of Molecular biology, Virology, and Medical/Veterinary Parasitology.

Research project:

Her research work will be focused on investigating the influence that vitamin D nutritional status has on the immuno-modulatory role of T-cell responses in HIV positive adolescents and how this affects disease severity. Of primary interest is the potential benefits of vitamin D as adjuvant therapy to anti-retroviral drugs and how this can help improve the quality of life in people living with HIV.


Professor Paul Kelly (Blizard Institute, Barts and University of Zambia School of Medicine); Professor Ulrich E. Schaible (Research Centre Borstel); Lackson Kasonka (MD) (University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka).


Karen Sichibalo

Nyasha begins her PhD in Epidemiology and Population at LSHTM in September 2021, her research nested within the VITALITY trial. 
Nyasha is a medical doctor from Zimbabwe, who subsequently obtained an MSc in Epidemiology- (Implementation Science stream) at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa) funded by the WHO-Tropical Diseases Research Fellowship Programme. Currently she coordinates a multi-country EDCTP-funded clinical trial of vitamin D and calcium carbonate supplementation to improve bone density in children with HIV (VITALITY) at BRTI, a Zim-LSHTM Research partner. 
Research Project:
Her research will explore treatment adherence rates in adolescents living with HIV using electronic pill monitoring devices. These electronic pill monitoring devices will be used to measure adherence rate of ART as well as VITALITY trial drug in a sample of 100 participants. In addition, to contributing to the body of scientific literature, Nyasha's research will also allow in-depth understanding of treatment adherence among adolescents which will help with early identification and intervention of those at risk of treatment failure. 
Assistant Professor Victoria Simms (LSHTM Zimbabwe Partnership); Professor Rashida Ferrand, LSHTM.



Nyasha Dzavakwa

In September 2021, Ted will be embarking on a distance learning MSc in Clinical Trials at the University of London, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Ted is a Clinical Trials research practitioner with more than eight years’ experience in Clinical Trials conduct, internal monitoring, and coordination. He has a strong managerial background and recently graduated with a Post-Graduate Diploma in Project Management (Project Management Zimbabwe 2020). Ted has an MBA (Solusi University 2018) as well as a Bachelor of Science Health Education and Health Promotion (University of Zimbabwe 2013). He also has a diploma in General Nursing (Harare Central Hospital 2003).

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Ted Manyanga

Mizinga holds a BSc degree holder in Biomedical Sciences and she is currently working as a research scientist for the VITALITY research program at our site in Lusaka, Zambia. She is also an aspiring PGcert Infectious diseases student. Her research interests are immunology and infectious diseases.
In October 2021, Mizinga will begin her distance learning MSc in infectious diseases with LSHTM.  



Mizinga Jacqueline Tembo

Lisha Jeena is a medical doctor from South Africa, currently pursuing a DPhil from the University of Oxford. She previously completed her Masters in International Health and Tropical Medicine from Oxford and is a Rhodes Scholar. Lisha worked as a clinician for three years in South Africa before pursuing postgraduate studies. Her interest in HIV research comes from her experiences working with people living with HIV at hospitals and clinics. 

Research Project:

Her research investigates whether chronic inflammatory processes associated with HIV negatively impacts bone and muscle growth during puberty. It also considers the association of risk factors such as specific antiretroviral drug use with inflammation and growth outcomes. This is important to aid strategies which may optimise the quality of life of children living with HIV during puberty, and reduce their risk of premature osteoporosis and subsequent fractures in later life. 


Professor Sarah Rowland-Jones (University of Oxford), Professor Rashida Ferrand (LSHTM), Professor Celia Gregson (University of Bristol), Dr Anthony Hsieh (University of Oxford)

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Lisha Jeena


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