BUFFALO, N.Y. – For more than 10 years, the University at
Buffalo's HIV Clinical Pharmacology Research Program has helped
fight the global AIDS epidemic by hosting visiting pharmaceutical
scientists from countries like Zimbabwe and Nigeria in order to
teach them how to conduct clinical trials and research on
Now, in recognition of their success and the need to expand
these efforts, the National Institutes of Health has awarded a
total of $2.3 million to the laboratory, housed in the UB School of
Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and UB's New York State Center
of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.
The new grants bring to more than $11 million the funds that the
UB HIV Clinical Pharmacology Research program has been awarded
since 2008. That year, more than $7 million was awarded by the
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to initiate
at UB the world's only International HIV/AIDS UB Clinical
Pharmacology Quality Assurance (CPQA) program, designed to ensure
that HIV/AIDS researchers in resource-limited countries conducted
high-quality, pharmacology-focused clinical trials.
"This exciting new award represents a research and educational
program that is making an impact well beyond Buffalo," says
Alexander N. Cartwright, PhD, interim vice president for research
at UB. "It is an excellent example of the important programs that
are being developed and delivered by researchers in UB's NYS Center
of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences."
With the new funding, the UB researchers -- led by Gene D.
Morse, PharmD, professor in the UB School of Pharmacy and
Pharmaceutical Sciences and associate director of UB's Center of
Excellence -- will be able to intensify efforts to train in-country
laboratory specialists where HIV/AIDS infection rates are highest
globally, test their bioanalytical proficiency and conduct quality
control analysis of HIV/AIDS clinical trials and their
pharmacology-focused research studies.
So far, UB has brought to Buffalo seven HIV/AIDS pharmaceutical
and clinical scientists from African nations, for visits lasting
several months. In addition to their pharmacology training in the
UB lab, these scientists also benefited by participating in the HIV
Adherence Pharmacology program at the Erie County Medical Center,
the Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo and the Western New
York AIDS Community Services Center.
Many more scientists with HIV/AIDS training still are needed,
Morse says. The World Health Organization estimates that of the
more than 33 million people currently living with AIDS, more than
60 per cent live in Africa.
"Through our relationship with the University of Zimbabwe, and
our UB-UZ International Training Program, we have established a
highly successful HIV/AIDS pharmacology program that is becoming a
center of excellence in the region," says Morse.
Its success has led universities in adjacent countries to
contact UB officials, asking how they, too, might establish such
"There is a very substantial desire on the part of HIV
pharmaceutical scientists in Africa to obtain more specialized
training," Morse continues. "While we would like to have many visit
Buffalo, we are planning to transition to regional Centers of
Excellence in Africa that can accelerate the rate of training while
UB remains the coordinating center."
Treating HIV/AIDS patients in Africa is far more complicated
than simply providing them with anti-retroviral medications,
according to Morse. Pharmacological issues specific to individual
patients need to be addressed, including maternal-fetal
transmission, resistance, dietary factors, use of traditional and
herbal medicines and co-infection with hepatitis B, tuberculosis
The new funding includes $1.75 million from NIH to establish the
global pharmacology quality assurance program led by UB, with
participation from laboratories at the University of North
Carolina, the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, the
University of Zimbabwe and South Africa's Cape Town University.
It includes $240,557 from the NIH AIDS Clinical Trials Group for
the UB HIV Pharmacology Specialty Laboratory, a New York
State-certified laboratory, to purchase new analytical
instrumentation for HIV research projects. It also includes
$300,000 for continued work on a drug interactions database that
allows HIV researchers from around the world to access the most
recent drug interactions research findings so that they can be
included in new treatment protocols to promote patient safety in
These and related UB initiatives were highlighted at the
International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria, this past summer,
when Morse chaired a session that focused on developing global
pharmacology research capacity to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic
along with the common co-infections of tuberculosis and
Presentations also were given by Charles Maponga, PharmD, of the
University of Zimbabwe Department of Pharmacy and a UB visiting
pharmaceutical scientist, James Hakim, MD, professor of medicine at
UZ's College of Health Sciences, Fatai Fehintola, MD, professor of
medicine and pharmacology, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, who
completed an NIH-sponsored training program at UB; Kim Scarsi,
PharmD., associate professor, Northwestern University and Robin
DiFrancesco, quality assurance program manager at UB.