Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, the Director MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit and Director Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) has been elected a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, an independent UK body representing the diversity of medical science.
He is one of 50 new Fellows announced by the Academy, chosen for their exceptional contributions to advancing biomedical science via world-leading research discoveries, running national science communication and engagement programmes and translating scientific advances into benefits for patients and the public.
Professor Kaleebu said of his appointment: “I am greatly honoured to have been elected to the Academy. For nearly 30 years, I have had the opportunity to participate in research of different viral diseases but mostly HIV, studying the virus and the immune responses to contribute to HIV vaccine development and I have participated in many intervention studies, especially HIV vaccine trials. I have been privileged to meet and work with many dedicated scientists without whom I would not have made these contributions.
He is a professor of immunovirology at the LSHTM. His main research interest has been in understanding protective immune responses that could lead to the development of an HIV vaccine. He co-founded the UVRI-IAVI HIV vaccine Program for which he served as director for nearly 10 years and was one of the investigators in the first HIV vaccine trial conducted in Africa. He led the setting up of the National HIV drug resistance reference laboratory hosted at UVRI and he currently chairs the HIV drug resistance Technical Working Group in Uganda.
“The past few months have been some of the most challenging in my career, as I lead a team of researchers that is playing a pivotal role in confronting the new SARSCov2 pandemic. I wish to acknowledge the different funders of my work especially the Medical Research Council of the UK, my major institutions, the LSHTM and its MRC Unit in Uganda and the Uganda Virus Research Institute.”
Also elected to the Academy is Prof. Helen Weiss, Professor of Epidemiology and Director of MRC Tropical Epidemiology Group at the LSHTM. She has long-term collaborations in Zimbabwe, Uganda and India, and focuses on intervention trials delivered by trained lay health-workers – for example to improve uptake of HIV testing, linkage-to-care and treatment adherence among young people, and to effectively treat depression, anxiety and alcohol use disorders through talking therapies.