The Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland, has announced that it will commit $60 million over ten years to a partnership with the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in South Africa to establish an international research center focused on the co-epidemic of tuberculosis and HIV as well as the training of a new generation of scientists in Africa.
The KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV will be located on the Durban campus of the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine in a six-story facility with two floors of high-level bio-safety laboratories equipped for TB research. HHMI will provide $20 million toward the construction of the new building, with additional support provided by UKZN and LIFE Lab, a biotechnology center operated by the government of South Africa. The $30 million project will be integrated with the existing Doris Duke Medical Research Institute.
At the outset, the new institute will focus on four major research areas: development of rapid and more effective tests for TB; characterization of the genotypic and phenotypic traits of drug-resistant strains of TB; analysis and characterization of the complex immune response to TB, specifically among people infected with HIV; and study of recurrent TB in patients with HIV.
South Africa has more residents infected with HIV than any other nation in the world. In KwaZulu-Natal province — home to more than ten million people — as much as 40 percent of the population may be HIV-positive.
"This initiative adds a new dimension to HHMI's commitment to international research," said HHMI president Thomas R. Cech. "Our cross-Atlantic partnership reflects a shared view that direct and substantial investment in basic, clinical, and translational research in the heart of the pandemics of HIV and TB will yield significant discoveries that will alleviate the human suffering caused by these diseases."