CIDRZ HIV Preventive Vaccine Trial – HVTN 111 Opens

HVTN 111: A Phase 1, HIV Preventive Vaccine Trial Opens at Matero Ref 

AIDS, the disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a huge problem around the world, and especially in countries in sub-Saharan Africa such as Zambia. While we have an excellent ART treatment programme to help those infected with HIV/AIDS to live well, finding a safe and effective HIV vaccine that protects against getting the virus is key to ending the epidemic!

The HIV Vaccine Trials Network 111 is a  Phase 1 clinical trial which is a carefully controlled and monitored research study which aims to find out if the specific study vaccine being used is safe and how the body’s defence mechanisms respond to it.

CIDRZ is the Zambian site conducting the HVTN 111 study. It is also being conducted at sites in South Africa and Tanzania. Funding for the study is provided by the HVTN, the US Division of AIDS (DAIDS), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline (formerly Novartis) and the IPPOX Foundation.

About the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (www.hvtn.org)
The mission of the HVTN is to fully characterize the safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy of HIV vaccine candidates with the goal of developing a safe, effective vaccine as rapidly as possible for prevention of HIV infections globally. The HVTN, with expert scientists from medical institutions across the globe alongside top clinicians, educators, and dedicated community representatives, is committed to conducting scientifically rigorous and ethical trials.

All clinical studies done by the HVTN test the safety of vaccine candidates. They also look to see if people can get these vaccines without having side effects that make them very uncomfortable. They look at the immune responses that are generated in people who receive these vaccines. Some of their studies look at whether these vaccines protect against HIV infection, or control HIV if infection does occur (efficacy studies).

To date, the HVTN has conducted the majority of the published, presented, or ongoing clinical trials of preventive HIV vaccines worldwide. In the process, they have gained tremendous experience in administering an innovative global scientific organization, which combines the intellectual robustness and creativity of academia with the focus and infrastructure of industry.

CIDRZ is proud to partner with the HVTN in this important HIV research.

National Dissemination of Preliminary Better Information for Health in Zambia Study Results

This past November, representatives of the Zambian Ministry of Health, CIDRZ, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the University of California, San Francisco met with a diverse range of local stakeholders in Lusaka for the national dissemination of the preliminary results of the Better Information for Health in Zambia study – known locally as “BetterInfo”.

The study was conducted by CIDRZ with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in and was conducted in collaboration with the Zambian Ministry of Health. The BetterInfo study sought to ascertain the outcome among a representative sample of lost-to-follow-up HIV care and treatment patients to estimate the population level estimates of mortality and retention in the National HIV Care and Treatment programme. In addition, the study critically examined why some patients enrolled in Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) care decide to stay in care, while some decide to silently transfer themselves to a different clinic, or to completely disengage from life-saving ART care.

At the national dissemination meeting which took place on 30 November 2016, Ministry of Health Director of Clinical Care and Diagnostic Services, Dr Gardner Syakantu emphasised the importance of the BetterInfo research findings to address gaps in local health service delivery when he said,despite improved and highly successful programmatic coverage with ART, significant numbers of adults drop out of care at various points along the treatment pathway and thus treatment gains fail to reach sufficient numbers of HIV patients. It is essential to understand how and why patients drop out of treatment programmes, since retention of people on ART, and ensuring adherence to treatment, are both critical determinants of successful long-term health outcomes.”

Speaking at the event, Dr Izukanji Sikazwe of CIDRZ, one of the three Principal Investigators of the BetterInfo study said, “understanding the true outcomes of patients in ART care has become increasingly critical to guide decision-making. Knowing this will allow for better assessment of our public health systems and programme efficiencies, and enable us to strengthen programmes by identifying potential interventions to improve patient retention in HIV care. Long-term regular follow-up of ART patients is an important component of comprehensive and effective HIV care. Patients who are lost-to-follow-up while on ART compromise their own health and the long-term success of the national programme.”

The other Principal Investigators for the BetterInfo study were infectious disease and public health specialists, Dr Elvin Geng from the University of California, San Francisco and Dr Charles Holmes, faculty member of Johns Hopkins University.

During the month of December the study team disseminated the preliminary results of the study to the staff at the District sites that were involved. The final results of BetterInfo are expected to be released in 2017.

January 2017 Message from Dr Charles Holmes, Former CEO

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

After four great years leading CIDRZ, my family and I are transitioning from Zambia back to the US. I am thrilled to announce that Dr Izukanji Sikazwe, my Deputy for the last nearly four years, has been selected as my successor as CEO by the Board of Directors.

Dr Sikazwe is an extraordinarily talented Zambian public health leader, researcher and clinician, and I could not have asked for a better partner as we worked to transform CIDRZ into a strong and independent Zambian health organisation.

I would like to express my gratitude to the immensely dedicated CIDRZ staff and Board of Directors, and the many people and partners that have provided unfailing support to our efforts at CIDRZ over the past four years. Together we have made outstanding strides in turning the tide against HIV, TB, cholera, cervical cancer, childhood diarrhoea and emerging non-communicable diseases, addressed threats to maternal newborn and child health and made preparations for fighting Ebola. Our deep partnership with the Government of the Republic of Zambia has been central to our efforts to support sustainable health systems innovation, and study new medicines and vaccines to improve health in Zambia, and it has been a privilege to work hand in hand with talented colleagues from all levels of the Ministries of Health, Community Development and Home Affairs.

I am also extraordinarily thankful for support in many forms from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mary Fisher and the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Family Foundation, Absolute Return for Kids (Ark), Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, M.A.C AIDS Fund, Comic Relief, ELMA Philanthropies, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the European Union, and the University of Zambia/University Teaching Hospital, University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley, University of Alabama-Birmingham, Johns Hopkins University, and so many other friends, collaborators, mentors, and donors who have gone above and beyond to help strengthen CIDRZ during my tenure and support our lifesaving work.

I look forward to continuing to support CIDRZ as a US-based board member and as a contributor to ongoing programs and research.

Thank you again.

Charles Holmes, MD, MPH

Executive Vacancy – Deputy Chief Executive Officer – NEW CLOSING DATE 31st March 2017

Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) is a Zambian NGO improving the health of Zambians by conducting locally-relevant research, providing technical support and training, and strengthening primary healthcare provision systems in the areas of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, Women’s health, newborn and child health. CIDRZ has been an active partner of the Government of the Republic of Zambia since 2001 through collaboration with the Ministry of Health and other Ministries. CIDRZ now wishes to recruit:

Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO)                      Ref No. DC/EX/17/01/17

Reports to Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The incumbent develops a strong understanding of the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) national strategic plans for health, new developments that could affect CIDRZ, and global developments relating to the Sustainable Development Goals and trends in donor investments. S/he works closely with the CEO in the engagement and building of strategic relationships with the GRZ donor agencies, CIDRZ donor agencies, non-governmental partners, civil society groups including faith-based organisations, and the media.

Main Duties:
Provides high-level directional and strategic input into CIDRZ business development activities, including around partnerships and development of consortia. Drives the CIDRZ strategic planning process, including measurement of progress against strategic objectives and departmental accountability for results, and ensures that CIDRZ is meeting its mission. Understands the risks facing the organisation, and works closely with Executive Committee (EXCO) members, the Board of Directors and outside parties to put into place effective risk mitigation strategies. Works in collaboration with EXCO members to ensure the effectiveness and compliance of operational, programmatic and research arms of the organisation. Directly oversees the Business Development and Grants and Contracts units and provides support to the CEO in the management of direct reports, as assigned. Sets an annual communications plan with the Communications unit and ensures timely completion of high quality external communications and regular internal communication. Sets effective agendas for and co-chairs monthly meetings of the Leadership Team, and bi-weekly meetings of the EXCO. Provides internal “management consultations” for troubled units or managers. Serves as a signatory for financial agreements between CIDRZ, donor organisations, and subcontractors. Participates in the development and implementation of innovative clinical, epidemiological, and operational research studies, designed to address key issues identified by the Zambian Ministry of Health (MOH). Supports the development and implementation of policies that ensure CIDRZ representation at the policy level, including in key Technical Working Groups supported by the MOH and other Ministries. Supports the CEO and broader organisation in meeting programmatic, research, training and policy mission, as required.

Qualifications:

– Minimum of 8 years’ Management Consulting/Senior Executive management experience
– Postgraduate degree; preferably MBA, MPH and/or PhD, MD
– Proven results-oriented leader, with high-level skills in organisational management, able to manage and create clarity in a complex environment
– Experience managing effectively in a multi-cultural setting
– Excellent written and verbal English communication skills are a prerequisite
– Experience in healthcare delivery, management and research is preferred
– Experience managing program and research grants is preferred 

Closing Date for receiving applications is 31st March, 2017.

Suitably qualified candidates are invited to apply; however only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Please send application letter quoting Reference Number above, relevant academic and professional certificates, and detailed CV with day-time telephone number(s) to:

CIDRZ Human Resources Director
PO Box 34681, LUSAKA or email: jobs@cidrz.org

Obituary: Dr Nancy L. Czaicki PhD, MSPH, BS

Obituary: Dr Nancy L. Czaicki PhD, MSPH, BS
A bright and shining light dimmed far too soon

It is with great sadness that we learned of the sudden passing of our colleague and friend, Nancy Czaicki, in a tragic accident in early January.

Nancy only formally joined CIDRZ as a full-time Scientist in October of 2016, but her important contributions to our research work, and her commitment and devotion to improving the health of those living with HIV and AIDS in Africa, started long before.

Intelligent and talented, Nancy earned her PhD in epidemiology at the University of California – Berkeley, MSPH in Global Epidemiology from Emory University, and BS in Honours Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to moving to Lusaka in October, she was serving as an epidemiologist at the University of California – San Francisco and collaborating with CIDRZ on our two large Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded projects, Better Information for Health in Zambia, and Evaluating the Feasibility, Effectiveness, and Efficiency of Decentralized and Streamlined Antiretroviral Therapy Care Models (Community ART), as well as our US government-funded ACHIEVE project.

Nancy was passionate about using implementation science and research to improve patient care delivery and thus the lives of those we serve. Colleagues describe her “as a brilliant epidemiologist, a thoughtful colleague, a tireless advocate, and an insightful and patient mentor.” She was completely invested in her work with CIDRZ to improve the health of Zambians.

She brought not only her quick scientific mind, but her funny, bubbly personality, her brightness and optimism, and her beautiful sunny smile as she tackled any problem. We will miss her contributions to our work, but we regret even more the potential impact she could have had on overcoming global health challenges if she had been able to complete a long career. Sadly, this was not to be and the world will be a little less bright and the burden a little heavier without her. But in the all-too-short 30 years that Nancy Czaicki lived, she touched many and made enormous contributions. Her light will still shine on in those who had the privilege to know her.

— Dr Izukanji Sikazwe, CEO

CIDRZ Board of Directors Announce Transition of CEO Dr Charles Holmes and Selection of Dr Izukanji Sikazwe as Successor

Commenting on the transition that is effective January 2017, CIDRZ Board Chair, Mr Bradford Machila stated, “we celebrate the extraordinary efforts and successes of Dr Charles Holmes during his four years of leadership of CIDRZ. He, along with Dr Izukanji Sikazwe and their dedicated team have transformed the organisation into a well-managed, high performing, and sustainable contributor to improvements in health in Zambia, and a model partner to the Government of the Republic of Zambia. They have built new partnerships and strengthened trust with all levels of government, the University of Zambia, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and all of our donors in a way that reflects Dr Holmes’ contributions as a leader, diplomat and scientist. Dr Sikazwe has served as Deputy for nearly four years, contributing directly to many of the gains we have made, and has emerged from a competitive recruitment process as an outstanding choice to carry our progress forward and chart new avenues for CIDRZ to improve the health of Zambians.”

Dr Izukanji Sikazwe is an infectious disease physician, HIV programme expert, and clinical researcher whose work has been funded by the US National Institutes of Health, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Health Organization. She has served as Deputy CEO since joining CIDRZ in 2013. Prior to that she served as an HIV Technical and Policy expert within the University of Maryland programme in Zambia, and was seconded for two years to provide technical assistance within the National Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) Programme of Zambia. She is an active member of multiple government Technical Working Groups, a valued mentor and educator of medical trainees and Master-level students at the UNZA School of Medicine, and practices clinical medicine at the Adult Infectious Disease Centre of Excellence at the University Teaching Hospital. She graduated with a MBChB degree from the UNZA School of Medicine and completed internship at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka. Dr Sikazwe completed Internal Medicine residency and Infectious Disease fellowship at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore and the University of Maryland respectively, and holds a Master of Public Health degree from Michigan State University.

CIDRZ Board Member, Dr Kevin Marsh, Professor of Tropical Medicine at Oxford University UK, and Founding Director of the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi, Kenya, added, “the Board of Directors is incredibly pleased to welcome Dr Sikazwe into the CEO role at CIDRZ. She has proven herself in every realm of leadership, medicine and public health, and will be a superb leader for CIDRZ in the years to come. Dr Holmes has led brilliantly over the past four years and has built a track record of innovative programmes and science, including the development and funding of large interdisciplinary research teams conducting studies that will continue to shape the health system in Zambia for decades to come.”

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa added, “on behalf of CAPRISA, I congratulate CIDRZ on its achievements in the past few years under Dr Holmes and wish Dr Sikazwe every success. I have no doubt that CIDRZ is in good hands, as Dr Sikazwe is an impressive scientist and a strong research leader, who has in past been involved in advising CAPRISA on its research.” 

Mr Kenly Sikwese, Coordinator of the African Community Advisory Board (AFROCAB), concurred, “I am grateful to my friend and colleague Dr Holmes for his years of service leading CIDRZ. Together with Dr Sikazwe they have made major improvements in the lives of those living with HIV in Zambia. I am excited to see this work continue under Dr Sikazwe, the first Zambian leader of CIDRZ.”

Dr Holmes and his family will be returning to the US, where he a faculty member of Johns Hopkins University. He has also been elected to serve on the CIDRZ Board of Directors. “It has been an honour to lead CIDRZ through a period of immense change and growth, and to have had the opportunity to strengthen the organisation so it can focus on achieving its core mission. CIDRZ is now a shining example of what a local organisation can be: deeply grounded in the communities in which we serve, aligned with national priorities, and dedicated to developing the next generation of African health and research leaders. I have enormous respect for Dr Sikazwe’s leadership capacity and her technical abilities, and I know I join our donors and partners in Zambia and around the world in my confidence that CIDRZ will continue to grow and thrive. I look forward to continuing to support CIDRZ in the years to come,” Dr Holmes stated.