During his fellowship from September 2010 to March 2011, Mr. Randy Kaja, a Pfizer Global Health Fellow based at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) Regional Office in Kenya, has been coaching IAVI-partner scientists to develop and publish scientific articles from their research results. This effort is a part of the ongoing training and support of USAID partner IAVI, to build capacity of African AIDS researchers in the field, while in the pursuit of an HIV vaccine.

Late in the summer of 2009, IAVI held a scientific abstract writing course for staff from Ugandan clinical research centers.  The course was designed to develop the skills and confidence of the research teams to independently construct complete, concise and clear scientific abstracts for submission to conferences.  Fourteen staff from the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) in Entebbe and the Medical Research Council (MRC) in Masaka participated in the program.  The program was a success; following this training, abstracts from two program participants were accepted for presentation at major international scientific conferences this year:

  • “Innovations in Addressing Communication Gaps in HIV Prevention Research: Experiences from a Lake Victoria Fishing Community.” Submitted by Simon Sigirenda and presented as a poster at the 2010 International AIDS Conference held in Vienna.
  • “Comparison of HIV Prevalence among Study Participants Screened for an HIV Vaccine Preparedness Cohort and VCT Clients in a Ugandan Fishing Population.” Submitted by Annet Nanvubya and presented as a poster at the 2010 AIDS Vaccine Conference in Atlanta.

In May 2010, IAVI hosted a more comprehensive scientific writing training for clinical research scientists in eastern and southern Africa.  Staff from six organizations, including UVRI, the MRC, the Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative in Nairobi and the Center for Geographic Medicine Research-Coast in Kilifi, Kenya participated in the six-day course, which covered the detailed process of drafting a scientific paper, editing it, and submitting it to a journal. The curriculum addressed abstract preparation, mastery of writing styles, essentials of editing, the structure of a scientific paper, preparing tables and illustrations, and an overview of the publishing process.

Mr. Kaja saw early results as well. An article titled “Reasons for Ineligibility in Phase 1 and 2A HIV Vaccine Clinical Trials at Kenya Aids Vaccine Initiative (KAVI), Kenya” by Dr. Gloria Omosa-Manyonyi et al. was recently published in the journal PLoS ONE. More papers are currently in various stages of drafting.

In addition, Mr. Kaja, in collaboration with IAVI staff in Kenya, delivered comprehensive workshops on scientific writing early this year, covering a range of essential topics, such as overcoming writer’s block, language usage, choosing a journal, research ethics, and authorship. Sixteen research staff from Kenya and 13 from Uganda and Rwanda have benefitted from these workshops. The participants, around 60% of them women, have ranged from medical researchers to community liaison officers involved in IAVI-sponsored studies.

More about IAVI:

IAVI is a global not-for-profit, public-private partnership whose mission is to ensure the development of safe, effective, accessible, preventive AIDS vaccines for use throughout the world.  USAID and IAVI formed a partnership in 2001 to hasten development of an AIDS vaccine.