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Scientific Cooperation Between the U.S. and the Republic of South Africa Funds 7 Cancer-Specific Projects

, by P. Pearlman, M. Williams, and G. Dominguez

The NIH has recently awarded its first round of grants in a parallel U.S.-South Africa funding opportunity. Scientific cooperation between the U.S. and the Republic of South Africa was initiated in 1995, and has grown rapidly in recent years.  Recognizing that enhanced cooperative biomedical research would be of mutual benefit to the U.S. and South Africa, the NIH Director and President of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in January, 2013 to develop a new U.S.-South Africa Program for Collaborative Biomedical Research.  A working group, made up of members from both NIH and SAMRC developed strategic plans for collaboration, each allocating resources to support joint activities pursued under this program.

Initiatives funded through this program will advance biomedical research for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in not only the US and South Africa, but will contribute to the global wealth of knowledge of these diseases.  Moreover, the scope of this initiative includes HIV/AIDS co-morbidities, and resulting malignancies. This opportunity was further targeted at expanding basic, translational, behavioral and applied research that will stimulate scientific discovery, and engage U.S. and South African researcher collaboration.

Cancer specific targets for this initiative include the following:

  • Epidemiology of HIV-associated cancers in the era of antiretroviral therapy;
  • Studies that identify biological differences between AIDS-defining and non-AIDS defining cancers;
  • Understanding interactions of HIV with human papilloma virus (HPV), human herpes viruses (EBV and HHV-8), hepatitis B and C viruses, herpes simplex virus (HSV) and other oncogenic viral co-infections that lead to increased cancer risks;
  • Studies on pathogenesis and pathobiology of HIV-associated cancers;
  • Strategies for optimizing diagnosis, prevention and treatment of HIV-associated cancers; and
  • Studies on complications and outcomes of treating cancers in HIV infected vs. HIV uninfected populations.

NCI is proud to announce that of 31 projects funded under this trans-NIH program, seven are cancer-specific. These include three R01s, three R21s, and one U01. 

It is increasingly evident that cancer cannot be studied in Sub-Saharan Africa without taking into consideration the backdrop of HIV/AIDS.  This program provides an opportunity to address and factor in this critical component, paving the way for successful research endeavors and reinforcing NCI¹s support for global cancer research.

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